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Discourses of Health and Illness in Accounts of IVF Failure

By Karen Throsby


When in vitro fertilisation (IVF) fails, there are few socially and culturally\ud intelligible resources available with which to make sense of those experiences\ud other than tragic stories of despair and interminable lack. This paper argues\ud that those for whom treatment fails occupy an ambiguous liminal location\ud between dominant stories, and that they have to draw strategically from often\ud contradictory discursive resources in order to make sense of those experiences\ud in a way which minimises the significance of their reproductive difference and\ud produces belonging. Based on a series of interviews with women and couples\ud who had IVF unsuccessfully and ended treatment, this paper explores the ways\ud in which the participants mobilised discourses of health and illness in order to\ud make sense of those experiences both to themselves and others. The analysis\ud illustrates the extent to which reproductive normativity produces a burden of\ud justificatory discursive labour for those for whom treatment fails, and\ud highlights the seemingly intractable association of healthy femininity with\ud motherhood. However, this discursive work also exposes the dynamic and\ud provisional nature of the apparently static categories of health and illness,\ud opening up possibilities for transformation in power relations

Topics: HQ, H1, BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:

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