Controlling Conception: Citizenship and the Governance of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Canada (1989-2004)
Cattapan, Alana Rose
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The emergence of a neoliberal mode of governance in the 1970s occurred in tandem with the advent of new reproductive technologies. These two developments have fundamentally altered social life, and have resulted in the emergence of new governable subjects. In the case of neoliberalism the new subject is the neoliberal citizen, a responsible, self-sufficient individual free to make choices in the context of the free market. In the case of assisted reproductive technologies, donor-conceived people, egg donors, surrogates, and LGBTQ parents using reproductive technologies have emerged as new reproductive citizens to be governed in public policy and law. This dissertation traces the confluence of these developments and the emergence of neoliberal and (assisted) reproductive citizens in the policy process leading to the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Drawing on policy documents, parliamentary debates, interviews with key actors, media coverage, and the “grey literature” from interest group actors (i.e., pamphlets, websites, flyers, brochures), this dissertation argues that federal governance of assisted reproductive technologies occurred in ways that reflect the imperatives of a neoliberal citizenship. At the same time, infertile people, LGBTQ people, donor-conceived families, egg donors and surrogates emerged differently in the policy debates, media, and jurisprudence as important subjects in the governance of ARTs, and at times, there were attempts to protect the interests of the vulnerable in the legislative process. In the end, however, concerns about the interests of reproductive citizens, including women’s health and autonomy, the kinship ties of children born of these technologies, and the need to prevent infertility on a large scale were supplanted by a continuation and indeed, an escalation of practices in assisted reproduction that embrace commercialization and individual choice above all.