Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), C\ Albasanz 26-28, 28037 Madrid, Spain; Centre for Business in Society (CBiS), Coventry University, Jaguar Building, Coventry CV1 5DL, UK. Electronic address: [Email]
The provision of oocytes plays an important role in human fertility treatments. Spain alone performs half of oocyte provision cycles in the European Union whilst all other European countries face an oocyte shortage. How do Spanish fertility clinics manage to match the increasing domestic and foreign demand for female oocytes? Adopting a weak performativity approach and drawing insights from interviews carried out with 20 fertility clinic representatives, this study suggests that Spanish clinics are successful thanks to an egg provision system designed as a (quasi) social market. In the absence of traditional market mechanisms based on price fluctuations, the combination of fixed monetary compensation for providers and altruistic framing of oocyte provision as an act of donation, are used to mobilize relatively high numbers of women. Fertility clinics optimize this supply through a set of supplementary strategies to ensure oocyte supply always meets oocyte demand. Though successful, this market design reinforces gender stereotypes and relies on manipulative notions of altruism. A clear but unacknowledged appropriation of women's bodies and reproductive labour are also operated, which reinforces and reproduces racial and social stratifications. Therefore, we ask whether alternative mechanisms to promote female solidarity across different generations, to raise awareness of the risks of advanced maternal age, and to explore alternative market designs should be considered.