I recently returned from the annual “Baby Markets” roundtable, which this year was hosted at Harvard by Glenn Cohen. Apparently this is the 9th iteration of the roundtable, which seems impossible to me, since that means I’ve been working on reproductive markets for 10 years and I can’t possibly be that old or that boring.
I haven’t been to the roundtable the past couple of years, because I’ve mostly been working on issues surrounding organ donation and not so much on reproductive markets. But this past year I have been working on a couple of papers related to the ongoing egg donor antitrust litigation that I’ve blogged about here before, as well as the “taxing eggs” decision, which was the subject of an earlier mini-symposium at The Faculty Lounge.
In brief, I try to tie the legal difficulties these cases present to cultural notions of egg donation as incompletely commodified. That is, regardless of the economic realities of the transaction, egg donation is framed by market participants (including donors, intended parents, and fertility professionals) as not really gift, not really market, but a little of each – a concept that works fairly well as a cultural account, but not so well with an antitrust and tax regime that is (properly, I argue) attuned to egg donation’s status as a market exchange. I hope to be back later when I have more time to discuss these ideas more fully with readers.
But, it was great to catch up with old roundtable friends like Judith Daar, Martha Ertman, Kim Mutcherson, and others. And to catch up with folks I haven’t seen there before, like John Robertson, Reva Siegel, and Kim Buchanan. I also enjoyed finally meeting folks who I know from Facebook or reading their work, but didn’t really know in person, like Gaia Bernstein and Jody Madeira. I’m looking forward to Baby Markets X, which apparently will be a big event at UC Irvine next year.