Conflicted hope: social egg freezing and clinical conflicts of interest.

05 June 2018

Over the past decade ‘social egg freezing’ has emerged as a technology of hope that purports to empower women by enabling them to continue their careers or find the right partner without the fear of jeopardizing their fertility. This technology has been promoted and celebrated by fertility companies, bioethicists, clinicians, and multi-national corporations such as Apple and Facebook. While critical questions have been raised, they tend to focus on ethical and legal issues, such as informed consent and patient autonomy. This paper uses Foucault’s notion of dispositif as analytic lens to examine the entanglement of the commercial arrangements of fertility companies, the discursive use of hope in promoting these services, and effects on professional medical care. Drawing on socio-political analyses of hope, this paper examines the potential financial conflicts of interest facing clinicians and the way discourses of hope might mask problematic financial relations and lack of evidence of effectiveness.