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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.



Good Eggs, Bad Sperm and Terrible Journalismby Kirsty OswaldBioNewsMarch 2nd, 2015What a shame that by repackaging the findings to appeal to the mainstream press the true relevance of this research has been overlooked.
Virginia Lawmakers OK Payout to Forced Sterilization Survivorsby Gary RobertsonReutersFebruary 26th, 2015The compensation plan was part of an amended two-year, roughly $96 billion budget package approved by the Republican-dominated legislature.
Reproduction 3.0by Leah RamsayBioethics BulletinFebruary 26th, 2015When you use a technology in a new way like this, it really challenges our notions of what it means to be a parent and what it means to be a family.
'Manufactured' Babies of Same-Sex Parents May Soon Be Reality[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Beth GreenfieldYahoo ParentingFebruary 26th, 2015News of another fertility breakthrough has been getting attention this week, with some saying it will allow same-sex couples to “manufacture” biological babies using embryonic stem cells.
United Kingdom Becomes Only Country to Allow Human Germline Modification[Press statement]February 24th, 2015The Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) joins many others who believe that this is a historic mistake.
Put Your (Frozen) Eggs in the Bank: Welcome to the Bioeconomyby Victoria TurkMotherboardFebruary 23rd, 2015Emerging reproductive technologies also risk presenting our bodies from a new perspective: as a commodity to be banked, bought, and sold.
Thailand Bans Commercial Surrogacy for ForeignersBBCFebruary 20th, 2015Thailand has passed a law banning foreigners from paying Thai women to be surrogates, after two high-profile cases sparked debate last year.
Blog: Three Parent IVFby Dr Trevor StammersSt Mary’s University BlogFebruary 16th, 2015At our current stage of understanding of the interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, this proposed new therapy could turn out to be a monstrous mistake.
Gay Couple Stuck in Mexican Legal Limbo After Birth of Surrogate Twinsby Verónica CalderónEl PaisFebruary 12th, 2015They cannot secure passports for their children, given that the state of Tabasco recognizes surrogate births, while the government department responsible for Mexican passport applications does not.
It's Illegal to Pay a Surrogate Mother in Canada. So What Would Motivate a Woman to do it? by Denise BalkissoonThe Globe and MailFebruary 12th, 2015They show a curious mix of altruism and omnipotence: These are women who give up their very bodies for complete strangers, but only after choosing a lucky few from the desperate hordes.
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