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ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES: NEW FORMS OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY?

Elena Bogomiagkova (corresponding author. E-mail: elfrolova@yandex.ru), Marina Lomonosova

Saint Petersburg University, St.-Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Bogomiagkova E.S., Lomonosova M.V. (2017) Vspomogatel'nyye reproduktivnyye tekhnologii: k voprosu o novykh formakh sotsial'nogo neravenstva [Assisted Reproductive Technologies: New Forms of Social Inequality?]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 20(3): 180–198 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2017.20.3.9

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Abstract. The paper is devoted to consideration of social consequences of assisted reproductive technologies (ART). ART has become common practice in many countries today and raise many medical, social, ethical, political questions, often leading to controversial and sometimes inaccurate opinions about the outcomes of pregnancies resulting from these techniques. Even though initially, these medical technologies were designed to smooth out natural, biological inequality, their implementation and using have led to the emergence of new forms of social inequality. Using statistics data from both Russian Federal state statistics service and the Russian Association of human reproduction, as well as conducting secondary data analysis, we analyze the emerging of new forms of social inequality. The main criterion to produce inequality is affordability of ART. Despite the existing of legislative regulation of the availability of ART in many countries, including Russia, the implementation of reproductive rights and the possibility of using these methods of human reproduction are determined by socio-economic and financial status of the person. In some cases, gender and ethnicity are also important. In Russia, it is possible to highlight the regional disparities, because significant proportion of the ART centers are concentrated in major cities, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Differences in access to ART induce new forms of social mobility, both at global and regional levels. Not only people, but also genetic materials, values etc. become mobile. «Reproductive tourism» develops. ART also contribute to emergence of new biological inequality and genetic discrimination, thanks to such a method as preimplantation genetic diagnosis. This method contributes to symbolic discrimination against people with disabilities and their families in the present. You can also speak about reproductive bioeconomics, where the reproductive labor e.g. surrogate motherhood is a central element and reproductive material (donorship) are main objects to be exchanged. In the most cases customers of the reproductive market are from developed countries and suppliers accordingly are from developing economies, so we can suggest a new form of colonialism and exploitation. Assisted reproductive technologies are a great example of how modern medical technologies influence social practices and social structure.

Keywords: assisted reproductive technologies, reproductive health, reproductive rights, social inequality, biological inequality, reproductive market.

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