The Speculative Turn in IVF: Egg Freezing and the Financialization of Fertility
Lucy van de Wiel’s research, published in New Genetics and Society, provides a chilling look at the role of money in the IVF and egg freezing fields.
She notes that venture capitalists and private equity firms see big financial returns and choose to fund egg freezing companies because unlike IVF “egg freezing does not have an equally clear endpoint for marking reproductive success. The potential for repeat cycles to accumulate more cryo-eggs for further fertility assurance presents another rationality for growth.”
Her research abstract follows:
Although IVF and egg freezing have received much scholarly attention, the pivotal role of financialization in the fertility (preservation) sector remains understudied. This article discusses how processes of financialization have instigated a step-change in the organization of contemporary US IVF and why egg freezing is at the heart of a wider consolidating trend in the sector. The financialization of fertility, in this context, references the financial investments in a future in which ever more women freeze their eggs, the role of capital markets in establishing new clinical and commercial infrastructures through which egg freezing becomes accessible and the role of financial products in shaping both the stories and the streamlining of fertility treatments. Together, these developments signal a shift from reproduction to fertility in IVF, in which treatment is not aimed at having a child at present, but rather at the proactive management of a more speculative fertility throughout the life course.