Accepted paper:

When "do it yourself" with cryopreserved semen becomes unsafe


Stine Willum Adrian (Aalborg University)

Paper short abstract:

Since 2011 sperm from a Danish Sperm bank was sold and delivered to private customers for home insemination. In 2017 this practice was questioned in the Danish Parliament, leading to a regulative ban. In this presentation it will be questioned how donor sperm for home insemination became unsafe.

Paper long abstract:

During an ethnographic fieldwork at a Danish sperm bank, cryopreserved sperm was increasingly sold and shipped directly to private customers, and no longer only to medical professionals. The sale and delivery to private customers enabled the sperm bank and their customers to by-pass legislations in Europe that otherwise would have excluded single women and lesbians to become inseminated with donor sperm. The practice was possible because sperm sold and delivered to a private customer within the EU made the sperm change from being perceived as human cells regulated by the EU tissue and cell directive, to being a commercial product moving freely a cross borders. The bypassing of the medical community and national legislations, has however not taken place unnoticed. In Denmark the practice was recently questioned in relation to traceability and safety, leading to a regulative ban. In this presentation, I am interested to understand how the ethical and legal negotiations regarding the mobility and use of donor sperm takes place in practice. Therefore, I make an inquiry in to how donor sperm becomes unsafe as it is delivered to a private customer, in order to carry out a home insemination. Methodologically and theoretically I draw on Clarke et al.´s (2017) developments of situational analysis in order to analyze the existing controversy. Empirical material analyzed includes an ethnographic fieldwork at a Danish sperm bank, combined with newspaper articles, legal documents and parliamentary debates.

panel F05
Promissory encounters? Exploring innovations at the intersection of reproduction and genetics from a feminist STS perspective