The biomedicalisation of reproductive ageing: reproductive citizenship and the gendering of fertility risk
The demographic shift currently being observed across many Western countries towards older-parenthood has contributed to increasing concerns about the risks posed by age-related fertility decline, particularly in women. These concerns pertain to the increased risk of infertility, pregnancy loss, and genetic abnormalities occurring in the foetus as well as greater physical risks to the potential mother during pregnancy and birth. Concerns about the effects of reproductive ageing have occurred alongside the emergence of variety of ‘fertility monitoring’ and ‘fertility extension’ technologies (FMETs) such as ovarian reserve testing and social egg freezing. In this paper I will explore the emergence of these new FMETs and will demonstrate how these new technologies are part of, and are contributing towards, a shift in the way reproductive ageing is perceived and represented, not as a natural inevitability but as a pathological liability in need of monitoring and management. I will show how, by rendering fertility risk ‘visible’, new and highly gendered anxieties are emerging creating new burdens and responsibilities on women to consider drawing upon highly commercialised biomedical interventions in the pursuit of biogenetic motherhood. I will also examine how, in the current neoliberal moment, these fertility risk individualising technologies can be experienced as highly compelling for potential users due to the ways in which they offer women the opportunity to achieve the goals of hegemonic femininity whilst demonstrating ideals associated with reproductive citizenship.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Baldwin, K/ (2019) The biomedicalisation of reproductive ageing: reproductive citizenship and the gendering of fertility risk. Health, Risk & Society,
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes