Empowerment through technology? How to deal with technology options in the liberaldemocratic state ? the example of egg cell preservation

Author:Vagias Karavas
Position:Dr. iur., LL.M., Professor of Sociology of Law, Theory of Law and Private Law, Executive Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Legal Studies - lucernaiuris, University of Lucerne. For the stimulating discussions and conversations at the conference 'Recht in Bewegung - Konferenz fu?r Gender Law 2019' I would like to thank the organizers...
Pages:85-104
SUMMARY

In the future, a woman who registers for law or medical school—and knows ahead of time that she will spend her prime baby-making years in the trenches— would ask for loans for tuition and egg freezing at the same time. Or she might ask a boyfriend who wants to wait a few years to start a family to pony up for the procedure. In either scenario, she would assume control of her fertility from the... (see full summary)

 
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Ancilla Iuris, 2019 Lagen des Rechts Article E-ISSN 1661-8610
Constellations of Law DOI 10.26031/2019.101 DOAJ 1661-8610
Ancilla
Iuris
Ermächtigung durch Technik?
Zum Umgang mit Technikoptionen im liberal-
demokratischen Rechtsstaat am Beispiel der
Eizellkonservierung
Empowerment through technology?
How to deal with technology options in the liberal-
democratic state – the example of egg cell
preservation
Vagias Karavas*
Translated by Jacob Watson
KARAVAS – EMPOWERMENT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY?
ANCILLA IURIS 2019, 101 102 CC BY-NC 4.0
In the future, a woman who registers for law or
medical school—and knows ahead of time that she
will spend her prime baby-making years in the tren-
ches—would ask for loans for tuition and egg free-
zing at the same time. Or she might ask a boyfriend
who wants to wait a few years to start a family to
pony up for the procedure. In either scenario, she
would assume control of her fertility from the outset,
rather than freeze her eggs as a frenzied reaction to
her life’s not having unfolded the way she imagined.1
I.
INTRODUCTION: FALSE FRONTS
If one reads Robertson’s2 essay on the question of
egg cell preservation together with Goolds’3
response, one realizes that while both fundamen-
tally acknowledge the empowerment potential of
the technology at hand, they disagree on its unin-
tended consequences. For his part, Robertson
expresses the fear that this technology could be
“misunderstood” by women as a “redemption” tech-
nology rather than a mere option-expanding tech-
nology (as a result of – in the Marxist sense - “false
consciousness” on the part of women?),4 and that it
could further lead to a market-induced alienation of
the women concerned from their own genetic mate-
rial (as a result of “false incentives”5?). Goold, by
contrast, asserts that an option is an option, i.e. a
choice between better or worse alternative possi-
bilities, the responsible perception of which, as it
turns out – and as befits liberal-democratic states –
is entrusted solely to autonomous and self-deter-
mined citizens.6 Period!
I would not like to make any further contribution to
this risk provisioning discourse here. In other
words, I am not interested in an argument that
weighs opportunities against risks in order to draw
normative conclusions. Instead, I will try to offer a
more sophisticated analysis of the promise of
1
*Dr. iur., LL.M., Professor of Sociology of Law, Theory of Law and Private
Law, Executive Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Legal Stud-
ies - lucernaiuris, University of Lucerne. For the stimulating discussions
and conversations at the conference “Recht in Bewegung - Konferenz für
Gender Law 2019” I would like to thank the organizers and the partici-
pants warmly. For critical-constructive comments I thank Michelle Cot-
tier, Steve Howe and Lukas Breu. The text also appears in German in:
Michelle Cottier/Sandra Hotz/Nils Kapferer (Ed.), Recht in Bewegung.
Konferenz für Gender Law 2019. Technical, political and social develop-
ments and theoretical challenges, DIKE (2020).
1Sarah E. Richards, Why I Froze my Eggs (And You Should Too), WSJ
from 4.5.2013, C1, cited in: Imogen Goold, Trust Women to Choose: a
response to John A. Robertson’s Egg freezing and Egg banking: empo-
werment and alienation in assisted reproduction, Journal of law and the
biosciences (JLB) (2017), 507ff., 517.
2John A. Robertson, Egg freezing and Egg banking: empowerment and ali-
enation in assisted reproduction, JLB (2014), 113 ff.
3Goold, JLB (FN1).
4Robertson, JLB (FN2), 122.
5Robertson, JLB (FN2), 125.
6Goold, JLB (FN1), 520.
In the future, a woman who registers for law or
medical school—and knows ahead of time that she
will spend her prime baby-making years in the tren-
ches—would ask for loans for tuition and egg free-
zing at the same time. Or she might ask a boyfriend
who wants to wait a few years to start a family to
pony up for the procedure. In either scenario, she
would assume control of her fertility from the outset,
rather than freeze her eggs as a frenzied reaction to
her life’s not having unfolded the way she imagined.1
I.
EINLEITUNG: FALSCHE FRONTEN
Liest man Robertsons2 Aufsatz über die Frage der
Eizellkonservierung gemeinsam mit Goolds3
Replik darauf, stellt man fest, dass beide zwar das
Ermächtigungspotential der Technik grundsätz-
lich anerkennen, über deren unbeabsichtigte Fol-
gen hingegen uneinig sind. Während Robertson die
Befürchtung äussert, dass diese Technologie sei-
tens der Frauen als „Erlösungs-“ statt als eine bloss
optionenerweiternde Technik (infolge eines – im
marxistischen Sinne – „falschen Bewusstseins“ der
Frauen?) „missverstanden“ wird4 und dass sie fer-
ner zu einer marktbedingten Entfremdung der
betroffenen Frauen von ihrem eigenen genetischen
Material (infolge „falscher Anreize“?) führen
könnte,5 behauptet Goold, dass eine Option eine
Option, d.h. eine Wahl zwischen besseren oder
schlechteren Alternativmöglichkeiten ist, deren
verantwortungsbewusste Wahrnehmung, wie es
sich in liberalen Rechtsstaaten gehört, den autono-
men und selbstbestimmten Bürgerinnen allein
anvertraut wird.6 Punkt. Schluss!
Anbei möchte ich keinen weiteren Beitrag zu die-
sem Risikovorsorgediskurs leisten. Anders gewen-
det, bin ich nicht an einer Argumentation interes-
siert, die Chancen gegen Risiken abwägt, um
daraus normative Schlussfolgerungen zu ziehen.
Im Gegenteil, ich werde versuchen, eine differen-
1
*Dr. iur., LL.M., Ordinarius für Rechtssoziologie, Rechtstheorie und Pri-
vatrecht, geschäftsführender Direktor des Instituts für Juristische
Grundlagen - lucernaiuris, Universität Luzern. Für die anregenden Dis-
kussionen und Gespräche an der Tagung „Recht in Bewegung - Konfe-
renz für Gender Law 2019“ möchte ich mich bei den Organisator*innen
und den Teilnehmer*innen ganz herzlich bedanken. Für kritisch-kon-
struktive Kommentare danke ich Michelle Cottier und Lukas Breu. Der
Text erscheint auch in: Michelle Cottier/Sandra Hotz/Nils Kapferer
(Hrsg.), Recht in Bewegung. Konferenz für Gender Law 2019. Techni-
sche, politische und soziale Entwicklungen und theoretische Herausfor-
derungen, DIKE (2020).
1Sarah E. Richards, Why I Froze my Eggs (And You Should Too), WSJ
vom 4.5.2013, C1, zitiert nach: Imogen Goold, Trust Women to Choose: a
response to John A. Robertson’s Egg freezing and Egg banking: empo-
werment and alienation in assisted reproduction, Journal of law and the
biosciences (JLB) (2017), 507ff., 517.
2John A. Robertson, Egg freezing and Egg banking: empowerment and ali-
enation in assisted reproduction, JLB (2014), 113ff.
3Goold, JLB (FN1).
4Robertson, JLB (FN2), 122.
5Robertson, JLB (FN2), 125.
6Goold, JLB (FN1), 520.

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