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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.



International Surrogacy, Global Consumerism, Harms to Women and Childrenby Carmel Shalev, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 15th, 2014Medical associations, nations, and the international community must intervene in the unregulated global market for surrogacy to protect, promote and sanction the human dignity and human rights of women and children.
New Poll Finds Only 18% of British Adults in Support of "3-Person IVF"by Jessica CussinsBiopolitcal TimesSeptember 15th, 2014A newly released poll finds substantial reluctance among British public to change UK law to allow the genetic modification of future generations.
San Francisco Lawmakers Could Pass Resolution Against Sex-Selective Abortion Bansby Nina Liss-SchultzRH Reality CheckSeptember 10th, 2014David Chiu introduced a resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans on the basis that they perpetuate racial stereotypes that are harmful to women and communities of color.
Genetic Rights and Wrongsby EditorialNatureSeptember 9th, 2014Australia’s decision to uphold a patent on biological material is in danger of hampering the development of diagnostic tests.
Surrogate Targeted After Backing OutBangkok PostSeptember 9th, 2014A Thai surrogate mother who had second thoughts appealed for help from authorities after becoming the target of threats and intimidation by the surrogacy clinic and police working for them.
1 in 27 Babies Conceived Using IVF in 2012The Yomiuri ShimbunSeptember 9th, 2014There has been a sharp increase from 10 years ago in the number of babies in Japan conceived by in vitro fertilization, according to the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
A Manifesto for Playing God with Human Evolutionby Carl ElliottNew ScientistSeptember 8th, 2014Fancy living forever, or uploading your mind to the net? The Proactionary Imperative embraces transhumanist dreams, but reminds why we need medical ethics.
An International Agreement on Commercial Surrogacy? by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesSeptember 4th, 2014A three-day convening in The Hague brought together scholars, women’s health and human rights advocates, and policymakers from 27 countries to tackle concerns about international commercial surrogacy.
Our State's Eugenics Victims Deserve BetterThe Times NewsSeptember 1st, 2014Elnora Mills was one of an estimated 7,600 North Carolinians who were sterilized against their will between 1929 and 1974, when the forced eugenics program at last was brought to an end.
British baby Gammy: Surrogate claims mum refused to take disabled twinby Ellen WallworkParentDishAugust 26th, 2014A British surrogate mother of twins has said the intended mother rejected one of the babies because she was born with a disability.
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