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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.



Nepal Bans Surrogate Births — Worry for Gay Israelis by JTAThe ForwardAugust 27th, 2015Nepal’s Supreme Court issued an injunction to stop surrogate pregnancies — joining Thailand and India — blocking future foreign intended parents seeking surrogates.
Banning Abortion for Down Syndrome: Legal or Ethical Justification? by Bonnie SteinbockHastings Center Bioethics ForumAugust 26th, 2015Instead of passing an unenforceable and unconstitutional law, Ohio should devote its time to ensuring that all people with disabilities, Down syndrome or otherwise, get the resources and services they need.
[Video] Is It Worth Your Time and Money to Freeze Your Eggs?by StaffBroadly [VICE]August 24th, 2015Broadly investigates the commercial promises of Egg Banxx "freezing parties" while following a patient through the process of egg retrieval, featuring Marcy Darnovksy.
We're Tantalizingly Close to a New Era in Childbirthby Ellie KincaidTech InsiderAugust 24th, 2015Developing technology that increases the chances of pregnancy for women over 35, though a feat in itself with many benefits, will solve one problem only imperfectly, and raise many more questions.
Choosing Children’s Sex Is an Exercise in Sexism[Australia]by Tereza HendlThe ConversationAugust 23rd, 2015Australian guidelines for ethical use of IVF allow sex selection for medical reasons. But draft guidelines now open for public submissions may allow the choice for social reasons.
Ohio Bill Would Ban Abortion if Down Syndrome Is Reasonby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesAugust 22nd, 2015Abortion opponents are pushing Ohio to make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a woman is terminating her pregnancy to avoid having a baby with Down syndrome.
IVF Mix-Up Case Now Before Court of Appeal[Singapore]by Selina LumThe Straits TimesAugust 20th, 2015Woman who had baby with stranger's sperm rather than her husband's is appealing to be awarded upkeep costs.
Fertility Clinics Let You Select Your Baby’s Sexby Sumathi ReddyThe Wall Street Journal"Family balancing," in other words sex selection of embryos, is permitted by US' lack of regulation. Professional organizations are split on their opinions of the practice.
Fertility Clinics Destroy Embryos All the Time. Why Aren’t Conservatives After Them?by Margo KaplanThe Washington PostIn light of assault on Planned Parenthood, conservatives attack vulnerable populations who seek abortions rather than more privileged counterparts who use assisted reproduction.
Experts Call for Greater Scrutiny of Egg Donation Practicesby Patrice WendlingClinical Endocrinology News Digital Network August 14th, 2015Some clinics and agencies may be minimizing risks in recruitment ads and websites, incentivizing repeated donations, or overstimulating donors for the benefit of recipients and clinic success rates.
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