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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.



Why we need a law to prevent genetic discriminationby Yvonne Bombard, Ronald Cohn & Stephen SchererThe Globe and Mail [Canada]September 19th, 2016After unanimous passage through Canada's Senate, Bill S-201 on genetic data is now presented before the House of Commons.
Peru Fails to Deliver for Indigenous Womenby Shena CavalloopenDemocracySeptember 12th, 2016~300,000 poor, rural, and indigenous people forcibly sterilized according to state "quotas", but public prosecutor says no "crimes against humanity" charges for state actors.
Victory: Eggs-for-Research Bill Dies in California Legislatureby Emily Galpern, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 8th, 2016A bill that would have expanded the commercial markets for human eggs, putting women’s health at risk, never made it to the Governor’s desk.
Remembering Ruth Hubbardby Marcy DarnovskySeptember 8th, 2016Ruth Hubbard — biologist, feminist scholar, social justice advocate, and critic of what she termed “the gene myth” — has died.
5 Reasons Why We Need People with Disabilities in the CRISPR Debatesby Emily Beitiks, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 8th, 2016“Why do I have to keep justifying my existence?” How gene editing policy discussions reproduce ableist assumptions and generate advocacy fatigue.
Women Freeze Eggs to Gain Time to Find the Right Partners Study Findsby Nicola DavisThe Guardian September 7th, 2016With annual storage costs and low success rates, "fertility insurance" doesn't address root causes of delayed parenthood.
Passing My Disability On to My Childrenby Sheila BlackNew York TimesSeptember 7th, 2016Drawing on personal experience, Sheila Black challenges the logic of creating "designer babies" with screening or modifying technologies.
Sperm Donor at Heart of Canadian Lawsuits Admits He Lied to Company Xytex, Police Sayby Diana MehtaThe Canadian PressAugust 30th, 2016Amidst pending lawsuits, Sperm Donor 9623 has turned himself in to the police for "falsifying paperwork."
Why India’s New Surrogacy Bill Is Bad For Womenby Sharmila RudrappaThe Huffington PostAugust 26th, 2016In an attempt to regulate surrogacy, the bill has further deregulated the industry and opened the possibilities for deeper harms to working class women.
The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Womenhttp://daily.jstor.org/the-little-known-history-of-the-forced-sterilization-of-native-american-women/August 25th, 2016Both the IHS and its dark history of forced sterilization were the result of longstanding, often ham-fisted attempts to "address" American Indians’ health care needs.
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