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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.



California needs to do more than apologize to people it sterilizedby The Times editorial boardLos Angeles Times January 21st, 2017State officials should quickly begin tracking down these elderly victims who were abused decades ago while under the state’s care. Time is short to do right by them.
Controversial IVF technique produces a baby girl -- and for some, that's a problemby Susan ScuttiCNNJanuary 18th, 2017Stakes are rising as genetic modifications produced in a girl baby could be passed onto her future children. The risks remain unknown.
CGS Board Member Leads Redress Call for California Survivors of Eugenic Sterilization by Marcy DarnovskyJanuary 16th, 2017Scholars estimate that more than 800 people alive today were sterilized in California state institutions, and call on the state to consider compensation and redress.
Fertility Futility: Procedures Claimed to Boost IVF Success Lack Supporting Evidenceby Sandy OngNewsweekJanuary 12th, 2017Of nearly 30 expensive clinic add-ons reviewed by researchers, only one drew some evidence of boosting the chances of having a baby.
The Promise and Peril of Emerging Reproductive Technologiesby Ekaterina PeshevaHarvard Medical SchoolJanuary 11th, 2017IVG, thus far successful only in mice, allows scientists to create embryos in a lab by reprogramming any type of adult cell to become a sperm or egg cell.
How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Jim KozubekTimeJanuary 9th, 2017There are no superior genes. Genes have a long and layered history, and they often have three or four unrelated functions, which balance against each other under selection.
Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?by Philip BallThe Guardian January 8th, 2017A perfectly feasible 10-20% improvement in health via PGD, added to the comparable advantage that wealth already brings, could lead to a widening of the health gap between rich and poor, both within a society and between nations.
Philippine police arrest surrogate mothers-to-be in human trafficking crackdownby Lindsay MurdochSydney Morning HeraldJanuary 4th, 2017International surrogacy agents operate across multiple borders, flying surrogates, eggs, doctors and parents to whichever country is the most porous for their business.
2016 Fear vs Hope: Gene Editing— Terrible turning point?by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleJanuary 1st, 2017As the tools for gene editing rapidly advance, we approach our best chance to prevent the rise of a modern, uncontrolled and dangerously ill-considered techno-eugenics.
Unexpected Risks Found In Replacing DNA To Prevent Inherited Disordersby Jill NeimarkNPRJanuary 1st, 2017Scientists are increasingly concerned that "3-person IVF" techniques may allow flawed mitochondria to resurface and threaten a child's health.
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