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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 Does Silicon Valley Want to Get So Many Women Pregnant?by Sarah EmersonMotherboard [VICE]April 22nd, 2016Women’s fertility apps have found a profitable niche in the predominantly-male tech scene, an industry hoping they’ll deliver a lot of valuable private information.
Here’s Why that Race-Sex Abortion Ban Bill is So Discriminatoryby Sital KalantryWomen's eNewsApril 19th, 2016PRENDA accuses minority women of racially discriminating against their own fetuses; the proposed federal bill aimed at decreasing abortion access “is absurd on its face.”
Meet the feminists who are trying to stop the ‘dictator’s’ daughter from becoming presidentby Manuel RuedaFusionApril 8th, 2016In the 1990’s more than 300,000 women-mostly poor and indigenous-were sterilized in Peru by a birth control program run by president Alberto Fujimori.
Yeast Infection Led to Removal of Transplanted Uterusby Denise GradyThe New York TimesApril 8th, 2016If a yeast infection spreads into the bloodstream, it can be extremely difficult to treat, and can be fatal because of the immune suppressants required for the organ transplant.
10th Anniversary Baby Markets Congressby Elliot HosmanApril 7th, 2016Legal scholars, social scientists, advocates, and filmmakers grapple with assisted reproduction.
Canadian Eugenics Survivor and Activist Leilani Muir Dies at Age 71 by Natalie OveyssiBiopolitical TimesApril 7th, 2016Leilani Muir was an author, speaker, and activist for survivors of eugenic sterilization.
Will California Expand the Market for Women’s Eggs?by Marcy DarnovskyApril 7th, 2016A bill sponsored by the fertility industry seeks yet again to overturn existing policies that allow reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses for women who provide eggs for research, but not inducements of thousands of dollars beyond that.
The Surrogacy Cycleby Abby RabinowitzThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewMarch 31st, 2016Promising an escape from poverty, transnational surrogacy has left many Indian women with little to show for their efforts. What went wrong?
Center for Genetics and Society Letter in Opposition to California AB 2531The Center for Genetics and Society urges the California Assembly Committee on Health to oppose a proposed bill that would expand payments to women to provide their eggs for research.
Race, Reparations and the Search for Our Molecular Soulby Michael SchulsonReligion Dispatches (USC Annenberg)March 30th, 2016In a recent book, Alondra Nelson maps the rise of genetic testing among African Americans, investigating the ways that genetic technology is crossing over into social and political worlds.
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