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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.



Trump, Science and Social Justiceby Pete ShanksDecember 8th, 2016President-elect Trump's appointments, so far, are frightening to anyone who cares about science, or social, economic and environmental justice.
How Will Trump Use Science to Further His Political Agenda?by Sarah ZhangThe AtlanticDecember 1st, 2016We have a president-elect who appears to believe in his genetic superiority, with a chief strategist who has been reported to believe the same.
"3-Parent Baby" Procedure Faces New Hurdleby Karen WeintraubScientific AmericanNovember 30th, 2016Mitochondrial disease can somehow creep back in, even if a mother’s mitochondria are virtually eliminated in an attempt to block inherited illnesses.
'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on successby Deborah CohenBBC PanoramaNovember 28th, 2016A year-long study finds that nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics are unreliable, misleading, and risky.
Cambodia charges Australian nurse for running surrogacy clinicby Prak Chan ThulReutersNovember 21st, 2016As many South Asian countries take steps to clamp down on commercial surrogacy tourism, stakeholders are confronted with charges.
Why the Deaf Community Fears President Trumpby Sara NovicVICENovember 18th, 2016According to his biographer, Trump subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development and the superiority of certain genes — an echo of eugenics.
With Fertility Rate in China Low, Some Press to Legalize Births Outside Marriageby Didi Kirsten TatlowThe New York TimesNovember 17th, 2016Civil society groups are calling for greater reproductive freedom for single women, which would also affect lesbians.
Abortion-By-Mail Study Outrages Opponentsby Phil GalewitzKQED California HealthlineNovember 16th, 2016A pilot study of telemedicine-based medical abortion demonstrates a welcome new option for women. Opponents of abortion find the concept deeply disturbing.
Increase in IVF complications raises concerns over use of fertility drugsby Hannah DevlinThe Guardian [US]November 13th, 2016Stronger drugs used to harvest more eggs could also be linked to a 40% increase in cases of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
ACCC puts IVF clinics 'on notice' over misleading success rate claimsby Madeleine MorrisABC [Australia]November 13th, 2016Some major Australian fertility clinics changed confusing marketing messages on their websites after a consumer group's investigation documented their misleading claims.
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