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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.



Silicon Valley’s Egg-Freezing Perk Is Bad for People Across the Boardby Marcy DarnovskyRH Reality CheckOctober 23rd, 2014Egg freezing is an individualized, questionably effective technical fix for a fundamentally social problem.
Minister Sparks Backlash for Suggesting Foreigners Could Undergo 'Three-Parent Babies' IVF Treatment in Britainby Ben Riley-SmithTelegraphOctober 23rd, 2014Jane Ellison says she expects overseas patients to receive controversial IVF treatment if Parliament approves legislation in move politicians say could trigger new health tourism.
Twins Born Through IVF 'More Likely to Suffer Problems'by Sarah KnaptonTelegraphOctober 20th, 2014Giving birth to twins, as opposed to singletons, through fertility treatment substantially increases the risk to both mother and children, new research finds.
Yes, I Froze My Eggs, But am I a Victim of a New Fertility Racket?by Jemma KennedyThe GuardianOctober 18th, 2014Last week, Apple joined ranks with Facebook in offering free egg-freezing to staff who want to delay having children. Is this a step towards equality in the workplace or a machiavellian form of social engineering?
How the Pro-Choice Movement Excludes People With Disabilitiesby Lenzi SheibleRH Reality CheckOctober 17th, 2014If we in the pro-choice movement don’t start paying serious attention to the ways in which our own practices contribute to the dehumanization of people with disabilities, we can’t keep claiming to operate under a reproductive justice framework at all.
Three Years On, What Have We Learned About Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening?by Mark LeachDown Syndrome Prenatal TestingOctober 17th, 2014Three years ago, a new prenatal test for Down syndrome entered the market offering earlier, safer, and more accurate results. What have we learned about this new technology since then?
Silicon Valley Companies Add New Benefit For Women: Egg-Freezing[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Laura SydellNPROctober 17th, 2014The addition of the benefit by Facebook and Apple comes as tech companies face mounting pressure to hire more women, but some warn it may increase pressure those employees feel to put off having kids.
Dear Facebook, Please Don't Tell Women to Lean In to Egg Freezingby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostOctober 16th, 2014What we need are family-friendly workplace policies, not giveaways that will encourage women to undergo invasive procedures in order to squeeze out more work for their company under the guise of "empowerment."
Left Out In The Cold: Seven Reasons Not To Freeze Your Eggsby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsOctober 16th, 2014Apparently the professional cautions against egg freezing for elective purposes from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine are of no consequence to Facebook or Apple.
Another Reason Freezing Employees’ Eggs is a Terrible Idea[Quotes CGS and Marcy Darnovsky]by Ricki LewisPLOS BlogsOctober 16th, 2014Facebook and Apple’s decision to offer female employees a $20,000 benefit to freeze their eggs indicates a stunning disregard for the complexities of reproductive biology.
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