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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.



Eugenics victim still waiting for last paymentby Tim BucklandStar News OnlineJune 25th, 2016North Carolina's fund to compensate victims of its eugenic sterilization program is in limbo, with lawsuits pending.
As surrogacy industry expands, legal and ethical issues mulledby Bun Sengkong & Will JacksonThe Phnom Penh PostJune 23rd, 2016Surrogacy agencies in Cambodia and websites such as Gay with Kids facilitate cross-border surrogacy, although the Cambodian government remains unclear on surrogacy policies.
Book Review: Discounted Life - The Price of Global Surrogacy in Indiaby ňlo LuikBioNewsJune 20th, 2016Rudrappa locates surrogacy within the histories of politics and control as well as aspiration, nationalism and modernisation that the bodies of working-class Indian women have long been subjects of and subjected to.
DIY sperm test to hit the market this fallby Meghana KeshavanSTAT NewsJune 20th, 2016The semen centrifuge will calculate sperm count, but not sperm motility or other factors that affect fertility.
Do women who donate their eggs run a health risk?by Sandra G. BoodmanThe Washington PostJune 20th, 2016Health advocates say that donors are being falsely reassured that the process is safe, without being told that there is no definitive research.
Subsidised egg freezing isnít the answer to Japanís birth rateby Angel PetropanagosNew ScientistJune 17th, 2016The health risks of egg retrieval make Japan's publicly-funded egg freezing initiative a poor solution to the country's problem of population shrinkage.
House votes to expand compensation for eugenics victims by Colin CampbellThe News & ObserverJune 13th, 2016The North Carolina House voted to expand a program to compensate people who were sterilized by the state government from 1929 to 1974.
The Politics of Womenís Eggsby Diane ToberUndarkJune 10th, 2016A California bill would allow researchers to obtain eggs by paying women to provide them, though little research exists on the procedure's long-term health impacts.
Swiss back genetic testing of embryos (again)by Celia LuterbacherSwiss InfoJune 5th, 2016PGD and PGS hold potential to help couples conceive but also threaten a "slippery slope toward eugenics."
White Southern Girlhood and Eugenics: A Talk With Historian Karin Zipf by Tina VasquezRewireMay 27th, 2016The same white supremacy that declared Black men and women to be hypersexual also subjected troubled or abused white girls to incarceration and state-sponsored sterilizations to make sure the teens did not pass on "bad" genes.
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