Re-thinking egg donation in Europe: expanding practice, extending boundaries.




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The expansion of the use of donor eggs in fertility treatment has been exponential. Whilst the majority of egg donation historically took place in the US, donor eggs are used in over 56, 000 cycles of fertility treatment per year in Europe and a number of European egg donation ‘hubs’ have emerged, for example in Spain and Cyprus. Growth in the use of donor eggs in part reflects a changing profile amongst users of assisted reproductive technologies, including growing numbers of older women, male same sex couples, and those at risk from genetic conditions. An increasing number of egg donor ‘intermediaries’ such as egg banks and agencies have also emerged in the European context, reflecting a general shift towards an increasingly commercialised landscape around fertility treatment provision. Despite these changes, few studies have specifically considered their implications.

Drawing on an ESRC-funded study on the economic, political and moral configuration of egg donation in the UK, Spain and Belgium, we suggest that changes in the ways egg donation is provided in the European context are worthy of increased attention. Data from policy mapping and interviews with policy stakeholders and professionals illustrate significant shifts in professional and commercial practice. These changes are reshaping the intersubjective, political and social boundaries involved in egg donation in novel and complex ways. We suggest that the expansion and diversification of its use has implications for the policy and regulation of egg donation the European context.




Coveney, C., Hudson, N., Culley, L., Herbrand, C., LaFuente, S., Pavone, V., Pennings, G., Provoost, V., Weis, C. (2019) Re-thinking egg donation in Europe: expanding practice, extending boundaries. 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2019, Manchester, August 2019.


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