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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 Feminist History of Surrogacy: Should Pregnancy Give a Woman Rights Over a Baby? by New StatesmanGlosswitchMay 22nd, 2015Our current thinking, with its impulse towards gender neutrality and the insistence that female reproduction isn't inherently different from its male counterpart, is flawed.
Innovation and Equity in an Age of Gene Editingby Charis Thompson, Ruha Benjamin, Jessica Cussins and Marcy DarnovskyThe GuardianMay 19th, 2015As experts gather in Atlanta to discuss the rights and wrongs of editing human genomes, four of the attendees explain why it is vital to put social justice at the heart of the debate.
Unregistered Surrogate-Born Children Creating 'Legal Timebomb', Judge WarnsThe GuardianMay 18th, 2015Without a court-sanctioned parental order and improved international legal frameworks children could end up “stateless and parentless”.
The Ethics of International Surrogacyby Anne SchiffThe Jerusalem PostMay 17th, 2015Sometimes it takes a tragedy to draw public attention to otherwise unconsidered problems. The recent earthquakes in Nepal, and their consequences for Israelis hiring surrogate mothers there, represent such an instance.
U.S. Couple Stuck in Mexico Due to Surrogacy Snafuby Rafael RomoCNNMay 8th, 2015An American couple who say they have been stuck in Mexico for weeks because officials there won't provide a birth certificate for their son believe a resolution could be close.
Stigma Around ‘Non-Traditional’ Families Won’t End With Assisted Reproductive Technologyby Bianca CampbellRH Reality CheckMay 5th, 2015"I wonder if this assisted reproductive technology will be truly accessible to me and my community, and if it reinforces a nuclear family ideal that further stigmatizes our choices."
CRISPR Germline Editing Reverberates Through Biotech Communityby BioentrepreneurNature News BlogApril 30th, 2015The group has called for a discussion of the potential merits and risks of the technology and a global moratorium on germline applications, until such time, if ever, responsible uses can be identified.
Israel Evacuates Surrogate Babies From Nepal but Leaves the Mothers Behindby Debra KaminTimeApril 28th, 2015The infants’ arrival completed the evacuation of 26 surrogate Israeli babies from Nepal, where a devastating earthquake killed more than 4,000.
Why Facebook’s Egg Donor Ads Freak Me Out (And Should Freak You Out Too)by Sayantani DasGupta, Biopolitical Times guest contributorApril 27th, 2015With the disturbing aspects of the ova donation industry in mind, the additional digital twist of the personalized Facebook ova ad is particularly disturbing.
“It’s a Baby Farm.”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 23rd, 2015A new documentary uncovers the shocking realities of unregulated commercial surrogacy in India.
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