In 1986, FINRRAGE, the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering, was born, arguing unequivocally that reproductive technologies were bad for women.
As the FINRRAGE manifesto boldly states: We, women […], declare that the female body, with its unique capacity for creating human life, is being exploited and dissected as raw material for the technological production of human beings.
Arising in the context of corporeal feminism, this article presents an investigation into reproductive technologies through analysis of the female bodies at the centre of their implementation. In this article, I interrogate three of the multiple types of techno-maternal bodies, created when reproductive technologies meet pregnant flesh – the maternal body as a body ‘at risk,’ as an ‘in/visible’ body, and as a ‘commodified’ body.
As such, the questions surrounding these technologies are reconfigured from “How do reproductive technologies women’s bodies? Techno-Maternity as a Body At Risk The historical construction of the female body as the medical object par excellence has led in its contemporary manifestations to the conceptualisation of the female body as a body ‘at risk.’ Everywhere women go, from the public toilet to the doctor’s surgery, there are reminders that by virtue of the ‘unique’ female biology, women’s bodies are at risk – of breast cancer, cervical cancer, or osteoporosis, Metaphors of chance, likelihood, and probability abound, and nowhere more than in medical discourse relating to the maternal body, as will be highlighted in the following section.
Savior Siblings The subject of savior siblings is a complex dilemma that encompasses multiple issues.
Is it ethical to have a child in order to save another? Can parents make the decisions for their kids about organ donation?From this perspective, the female body was neither a hindrance to be overcome, as is implicit in Firestone’s position, nor a natural site of feminine power to which women could return, as it was understood by the members of FINRRAGE.Instead, this broad group of feminists argued that the investigation of body itself ought to be at the centre of feminist inquiry.The Nash family never discarded healthy embryos; instead they saved the embryos so they could have another child in the future, which they eventually did.It is also important to note that both parents were carriers for fanconi anemia, which means if they had another child via a natural pregnancy, the child have would have a 25% chance of being afflicted with the genetic disease.By the start of the new millennium, the development of genetic screening technologies made it scientifically possible for women to decide whether or not to carry a foetus with an ‘undesirable’ gene to term, and in December 2002, the space-alien worshipping sect, the Raaelians, claim to have cloned the first human baby, whom they named Eve.In 2003, Stanford University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology web site posited “it is only a matter of time before ectogenesis [gestation in an artificial womb] becomes feasible” (para 1) and a Sydney headline proclaimed “Meet Stephanie, A Designer Baby” (Apr 28 2003:1).Just six years later, Louise Brown, the first ‘test tube baby’ was born in England, and in 1980, the second, Candice Reed, was born in Australia.By the end of that decade, prospective parents had access to a wide selection of commercially available reproductive options: embryos could be conceived in petri dishes and frozen in order to be thawed out at a more appropriate time; infertile couples could employ surrogate mothers to bear their children; lesbian couples and single women could have children using donor sperm, and grandmothers could give birth to their own grandchildren (by having the fertilized egg taken from their grown daughter implanted into their uterus).Reproductive technologies, far from being tools of liberation, were in fact seen as tools of oppression, providing yet another means by which the patriarchy could erode womens control over their own bodies and lives.At the same time, in a slightly different forum, however, other feminist theorists were critiquing the assumptions that underlay both positions.