Accepted paper:

Reproductive medicine and biopolitical strategies in Germany


Susanne Schultz (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses how pronatalist strategies and IVF service provision are articulated within German policies, and is based on an interpretative analysis of policy consultancy papers. On this basis, a comprehensive intersectional analysis of reproductive technologies is suggested.

Paper long abstract:

The development of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is embedded in diverse relations of power and discrimination: it is articulated with genetic diagnostics searching for specific "medical" conditions of the embryo perceived as problematic or even avoidable, and with heteronormative legal and institutional frameworks which in many countries exclude unmarried, single, lesbian or transsexual people from access or health insurance coverage. Moreover, ART services generally exclude low income persons from expensive treatments. The paper will add another problematic biopolitical context of ART by addressing the link with demographic policies as they have become important within Germany, and connect this biopolitical dimension within an intersectional approach to ART.

In 2012, the German government established a tax-financed fund to subsidize IVF treatment within its new "demographic strategy". The background are (selective) pronatalist policies with the aim of increasing fertility, especially within the academic and middle classes, as they had become central for German family policies since the early 2000s. Referring to results from the research project "demographization of the political", the paper analyses how the link between demographic knowledge production and knowledge production on ART is articulated by various think tank and consultancy bodies, and discusses how the dimension of population policies could be integrated into an intersectional analysis of current ART developments. Methodologically, the author refers to interpretative policy analysis and shows - within the STS tradition - how scientific knowledge production about demography and fertility develops within a context of hegemonic policy discourses on the nation, the family and class relations.

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