We are pleased to invite you to the X AFIN International Conference: Reproductive Politics, Rights, and Desires to be held in Barcelona (Spain) from 2nd to 4th November 2017. The aim of this year’s conference is mapping the changes of reproductive politics and social practices over the World. We will focus on multiple ways in which individuals and couples struggle to achieve their reproductive rights and desires within a heterogeneous, conflictive and sometimes paradoxical legal and political landscape.
Over the last three decades, many European countries have experienced dramatic demographic changes. The main results are the shrinking family size and decreasing fertility rates to non-replacement levels, what Kohler et al. (2002) called lowest-low fertility (fertility rate at 1.3 or below). Southern and Eastern European countries like Spain, Italy and Poland have the lowest fertility rates in the world. For instance, Spain’s demographic shift over the last two decades has been extreme. This Spanish sharp fertility decrease could be interpreted as an expression of a waning desire to reproduce (Marre et al. 2017). However, Spain has one of the largest “child gaps” in the EU.
Diverse changes are contributing to this demographic transformation. New educational and job opportunities are increasingly available for women beyond motherhood and “new freedoms” (Gupta 2006) allow preventing unwanted pregnancies and births through the dissemination of effective contraceptives as well as through prenatal diagnosis and abortion. Nevertheless, this demographic shift is also a consequence of reproductive disappointments resulting from gender inequalities in the labor market and poorly funded work-family conciliation policies. Parenting has become increasingly intensive and the availability of ARTs has transformed reproduction into an individual choice that people may envisage at older ages (Mascarenhas et al. 2012; Kupka et al. 2014; Inhorn & Patrizio 2015; Präg & Mills 2015).
The massive postponement of motherhood beyond early adulthood eventually produces age-related fertility problems. According to the World Health Organization, at the beginning of 2015 there were more than 80 million couples with fertility problems that used assisted reproductive technologies to become parents, followed by an increasing number of single and same-sex couples. Since the ‘80s, most Western European countries have modified their laws to legalise and include assisted reproductive treatments with donated material, surrogacy or otherwise socially reconstructed forms of parenthood like adoption or fosterage.
Debates on reproductive rights nowadays focus not only on contraception or abortion, but also on the right to become parents via new reproductive technologies or adoption, as well as on the legal, procedural and social barriers that prevent individuals and couples from achieving their desired reproductive goals or accessing contraception and abortion. Contraception and even more so abortion, for instance, are still not easily accessible everywhere, and abortion continues to be strongly stigmatized in the public debate, including in European countries where it has been legal for decades (De Zordo, Mishtal, Anton 2016). Similarly, not all reproductive technologies are legalized and easily accessible everywhere to everyone. Unequal access and gender and social inequalities trigger the individuals and couples’ search for alternatives, including traveling to other countries.
The Conference will be organised in invited lectures and roundtable discussions with speakers and discussants invited by the convenors, as well as open sessions where participants will present and discuss their accepted papers.
We would like this conference to be a very special conference, where not only do we share research about the changes of reproductive politics and social practices, but we get an excellent opportunity for extending professional ties and making new colleagues.
We look forward to seeing you in Barcelona!
Diana Marre (AFIN, Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Silvia de Zordo (GENI, University of Barcelona)