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Doing the right thing with DNA forensics

Posted by Osagie Obasagie on November 21st, 2008

Defense attorneys, such as those at the Innocence Project, have been using DNA testing for years to exonerate those who have been wrongly convicted. But, a recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the efforts of Craig Watkins, a Dallas District attorney, who is reviewing old cases and using DNA tests to set the record straight. So far, this has led to six men being cleared of heinous crimes such as murder and rape.

Politics and a lack of resources often play a large role in preventing the thorough review of cases. District Attorneys make their careers by putting people in prison, not setting them free. And dwindling funding often means that crime labs do not have the staff or resources to keep up with current cases let alone review older ones. But, it is certainly heartening to see that at least one D.A. is doing whatever he can to use DNA technologies not only as a tool for conviction, but also as a opportunity for redemption. As Watkins notes, "We have the constitutional obligation to seek justice."

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

A call for "truth in egg-donor advertising"

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on November 21st, 2008

A columnist for Princeton University's campus newspaper asks, "Did early feminists fight to keep the government out of their ovaries just so the free market could invade?"

Michael Collins reports:

Unfortunately, donors are sometimes misled about the health risks. Doctors working at fertility clinics have a conflict of interest because they are paid by infertile couples but give medical advice to donors. As a result of this conflict of interest, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has received complaints from donors that they were promised coverage for egg-donation-related medical costs only to find that the coverage was extremely limited or came with high deductibles.

Collins asserts the need for federal regulation to "remedy the lack of available knowledge and limit the influence of a market system." His specific suggestions: establish a national register of egg donors and authorized fertility clinics, set a ceiling on compensation, and require that fertility clinics fully disclose their medical coverage plans. He also calls for college newspapers to "exert greater care in soliciting advertisements" from egg brokers and fertility clinics.

He ends by applying to the egg retrieval situation the lessons recently learned from the Wall Street fiasco:

With a lack of governmental regulation, the current system of free-market driven egg donation is prone to the same neglect and extravagances of Wall Street. The recent economic meltdown should stand as a reminder to the dangers of an unregulated market.

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Reproductive health journal examines new technologies

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on November 19th, 2008

The current issue of Contraception, published by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), includes an article co-authored by Emily Galpern, project director at CGS's sister organization Generations Ahead. Her co-authors are Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress, Lee Shulman of Northwestern University, and Jennifer Aulwes and Wayne Shields of ARHP.

"An Evolving Landscape: Reproductive Genetics, New Technologies and Health Care Over the Next Decade" recognizes that reproductive health, rights and justice have "become more complicated and dynamic than ever with the advent of new reproductive technologies." From its conclusion:

Those working within the progressive advocacy landscape are increasingly challenged to develop a nuanced understanding of the benefits and risks of reproductive genetics, and they will have the opportunity over the next several years to advocate for policies that promote reproductive well-being for all individuals and communities.

Moreno to lead bioethics during presidential transition

Posted by Jesse Reynolds on November 18th, 2008

Jonathan Moreno

Jonathan Moreno has been appointed to the transition team of US President-elect Obama. Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, will lead the review of the President's Council on Bioethics. At the Center for American Progress, he has been a Senior Fellow, directed the Bioethics program, and been the editor of the Center's Science Progress website and magazine. Moreno serves on the East Coast Advisory Board of the Women's Bioethics Project, and in 2004 to 2005, he co-chaired a committee of the National Academies that drew up guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research [PDF].

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

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