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Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 31:3 (2017) pp. 341-351


‘Normal’ is a contentious term. Descriptively, ‘normal’ represents ‘what is’ as a statistical average. However, the term also represents normative or prescriptive content about what is ‘right’ or ‘what should be’. Correspondingly, abnormality is a deviation from the norm. It is both a factual exception to the average and a value judgement about what is a ‘wrong’ state of being. Pursuing ‘normal’ or deciding against it can be a defining moment in the high technology environment of assisted reproduction. Here, we explore notions of normalcy articulated through legal and policy regimes around screening and testing of gamete and embryo donors. We draw on the work of disability scholars and the diversity of responses to the idea of normal that were registered by four women interviewed in our studies. Three of the interviewees had used or were intending to use donated gametes and the fourth had intended to donate her embryos. We demonstrate how the choice of a particular donor may reveal ingrained or structural prejudice that reconstructs difference as disability. Equally, however, it may reveal a multitude of ways in which difference or deviation from a normative standard is incorporated as a normal part of family formation.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies on February 10, 2017, available online:

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