Accepted Paper:

The Romanian Assisted Reproduction Industry: Failing Attempts at Professionalisation  

Author:

Alexandra Gruian (University of Leeds)

Paper short abstract:

The Romanian assisted reproduction industry fails to gain momentum due to various actors who, consciously or not, impede on its professionalisation. I will explore the medical and administrative technicalities and the political interests that prevent the standardisation of fertility treatments.

Paper long abstract:

The first IVF baby was born in Romania in 1996, however the country still lacks a legislation specifically addressing assisted reproduction (AR) and has one of the lowest rates of IVF cycles in the European Union. Based on a 8-month ethnography that included observation in fertility clinics, documentary analysis and interviews with medical professionals, legislators, IVF patients and other relevant parties, I will argue that actors from different social worlds have impeded, albeit not in a necessarily conscious manner, the professionalisation of the Romanian AR industry. I will focus on the role of state structures, political arrangements, religious, medical and patient organisations, foreign fertility clinics and the media in order to highlight the power dynamics at play. My arguments will support the idea that currently the AR industry is organised in individual fertility centers each with its own local practices, loosely regulated and supervised by central state bodies that are underfunded and understaffed. Divergent interests, either strategically enacted or inconsistently pursued, have sometimes had negative collateral effects. This delay in professionalisation as well as its consequences will be presented taking into account that not all actors have had as much to win or lose in the process, and that vulnerabilities have also stretched gendered, raced and classed lines. This presentation will offer an analysis of how reproductive technologies seem to gain a life of their own in the absence of standardisation and regulation, reflecting technical and political struggles.

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience