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About Reproductive Justice, Health, Rights & Human Biotechnology


Many applications of human biotechnologies, especially those involving reproduction, involve women's bodies. As these technologies are developed and used, women's well-being must be a central concern and reproductive rights must be firmly protected.

Assisted reproduction technologies have helped many people who otherwise could not have become parents of biologically related children. But these technologies tend to be costly and invasive. Their success rates, though improving, are still low. Most important, the long-term risks to women and children have not been well studied. Treating infertility has become a highly competitive business, and the field itself is notoriously under-regulated. Many experimental techniques are put into clinical use before they are adequately tested.

Other social, ethical, and practical concerns have also been raised: payments to encourage economically vulnerable women to provide eggs for other women's fertility treatment or to become surrogates; the increasing number of fertility clinics that offer social sex selection; and other forms of screening, testing, and selecting embryos. More radical reproductive technologies such as reproductive cloning and inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes we pass on to our children) are being used in animals, and though clearly dangerous, are being contemplated for use by humans.

It is not uncommon for those advocating these technologies to appropriate the language of reproductive choice to argue that parents should have the "right" to choose their children's characteristics. But as an increasing number of reproductive rights leaders point out, there are important differences between choosing when and whether to bear a child and creating a child with specified traits.

Advocates of technologies that would pre-determine the traits of future generations argue that these are "enhancements" that would improve the lives of children. But in addition to serious physical risks, significant social and psychological hazards are likely. Children born with pre-selected traits would come into the world expected to look, act, and perform according to specifications. Unreasonable and unfulfilled parental expectations can certainly flourish without these technologies, but expectations grounded in scientific claims and expensive procedures would likely be far more pronounced.



Key Questions About the Social and Ethical Implications of Nuclear Genome Transfer or “3-Person IVF” Techniquesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015As the Institute of Medicine launches an official assessment over the next year, here are eight questions to consider.
Institute of Medicine to Study the Social Policy and Ethics of “3-Person IVF”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015The FDA held a public meeting last year to assess the safety and efficacy of nuclear genome transfer for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial diseases. Now it has asked the Institute of Medicine to consider the social and ethical issues.
UK May Be Poised for “Historic Mistake” on “3-Person IVF”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015A Parliamentary vote is expected as soon as February.
Center for Genetics and Society Report on Global Surrogacy Practices[Press statement]January 16th, 2015Just Released: Center for Genetics and Society Report on Global Surrogacy Practices, part of a series from the landmark Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Surrogacy
Surrogate Moms Sue Thai Ministry for Custody of 13 ChildrenAssociated PressJanuary 14th, 2015The surrogate mothers of 13 babies fathered by a Japanese businessman are suing Thai authorities and seeking to regain custody of the children.
Trying to Tame the Wild West of Surrogacy in Indiaby Raksha KumarAlJazeera AmericaJanuary 14th, 2015Carrying someone else's baby is a $400 million industry here, but there are still no laws to protect women working as surrogate mothers.
IVF Booster Offered in Canada But Not US[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Alison MotlukCanadian Medical Association JournalJanuary 14th, 2015A fertility treatment that purports to help older women get pregnant by using mitochondria from their own ovarian stem cells is now being offered in Toronto, but nowhere else in North America.
Surrogate Mothers Do Fine In Decade Following Birthby Lisa RapaportReutersJanuary 9th, 2015A decade after giving birth, surrogate mothers don't appear to suffer lasting mental health difficulties as a result of giving away the babies they delivered, a small study suggests.
The Future of Conceptionby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 8th, 2015Numerous writers took advantage of the ending year to look broadly at just how drastically we are changing the process of baby-making, and what it all means for society.
The High-Tech Future of the Uterusby Katherine DonThe AtlanticJanuary 5th, 2015Following the recent success of the world's first uterus transplant, scientists are pursuing the new frontier of the bioengineered womb.
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