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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.



The Vagina Bio-Hack That Wasn’t: How Two “Startup Bros” Twisted and Took Credit for a Young Woman’s Companyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 25th, 2014When news broke last week that two male CEOs wanted to make women’s vaginas smell like peaches, there was a well-deserved backlash. Now, it turns out the project they announced wasn’t even theirs, and they got it all wrong.
The Ethics of Egg Freezingby Margaret SomervilleNational PostNovember 17th, 2014Will the time soon come where a woman that does not choose to postpone starting a family is seen as insufficiently committed to her profession?
Indian Sterilisation Patient: ‘I was Slapped and Told to Calm Down’by Alok Putul and Anu AnandThe GuardianNovember 15th, 2014Woman recounts treatment at camp where 15 women have died after taking antibiotics possibly tainted by rat poison chemical.
Breaking from our Eugenic Pastby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2014As the victims of North Carolina's eugenics program finally receive compensation, we should not celebrate "the new eugenics" as some have argued, but learn carefully from this history.
Human Germline Modification in the UK? Cries of Caution from all Cornersby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 201475% of submissions about three-person IVF to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee warn that more evidence is needed prior to offering these techniques.
Why Egg-Freezing Parties are Gaining Popularity for Women[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Hallie JacksonTodayNovember 12th, 2014Video: At a new kind of after-hours get-together, women hear about the possibility of postponing pregnancy by freezing eggs.
At Least 11 Women Die After Sterilization in Indiaby Katy DaigleAssociated PressNovember 11th, 2014A total of 83 women, all villagers under the age of 32, had the operations as part of India's free sterilization campaign. Dozens later became ill and were rushed to private hospitals.
Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questionsby Rob SteinNPRNovember 10th, 2014It would be the first time genetic changes have been made in human DNA that would be passed on, down the generations, through the germline.
Could Genomics Revive The Eugenics Movement?by Meredith SalisburyForbesNovember 8th, 2014There was a time when people in America were sterilized, sometimes unwittingly, by activists aiming to create a healthier, “better” population. As the progress of genomics accelerates, we need to remember the lessons of the past.
North Carolina Compensates Victims of Eugenic Sterilization[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Lily LouThe GuilfordianNovember 7th, 2014The drive behind these sterilizations was the eugenics movement: the pseudoscience of improving a society’s gene pool through reducing populations of people with negative traits.
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