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Genetic Crossroads
September 29th, 2005

Campaign to End Sex Selection:The Campaign to End Sex Selection moved forward with a successful presentation at the recent Aarohan Conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey from September 9-11. Sunita Puri from CGS, Shamita Das Dasgupta from Manavi, Inc. and Yin Leung from the National Asian Pacific Women's Forum made a presentation on the history and current status of sex selection in the United States, with specific reference to its impact on the issue of violence against women. Discussion guides and fact sheets on sex selection were distributed to representatives of 20 different organizations. The Campaign is currently developing a website and planning additional activities.

New CGS Fact Sheet on Women's Health and Egg Extraction for Stem Cell Research: In the US, the debate about embryonic stem cell research has centered on whether human embryos should be used for research, and left nearly untouched a number of very important social, political and ethical issues that are not related to the moral status of embryos. Among these are protecting the safety and health of women who provide eggs for research, preventing the emergence of a commercial market in eggs, and establishing appropriate oversight and regulation of stem cell research. CGS feels that women's well-being needs to be a central focus to ensure that stem cell research is conducted in a safe and ethical manner, and recently produced a fact sheet and one-page summary on this issue, along with a compilation of background materials.

Exhibition on California Eugenics:Human Plants, Human Harvest: The Hidden History of California Eugenics is on display at the California State University Sacramento Library Gallery from September 27 to October 21. This is the first-ever exhibit exclusively devoted to the history of eugenics in California. Rarely seen images and documents from archival collections throughout the US reveal the history of California's aggressive eugenic sterilization program, its promotion by some of the most powerful institutions and individuals in the state, and its adoption as a model by Hitler's regime. The exhibit is organized by Kathryn Sylva, Associate Professor of Design, UC Davis, with Ralph Brave. An opening reception and gallery talk on October 4 will feature Paul Lombardo, Director of the University of Virginia Center for Law & Medicine, and former California State Senator Art Torres, who legislated the 1979 repeal of California's sterilization law. For more information, contact Kathryn Sylva at [email protected] or the CSUS Library Gallery at (916) 278-4189.

Symposium on Eugenics and Genetic Engineering: On October 21, the Center for Science, History, Policy & Ethics at California State University, Sacramento will host a one-day symposium, "From Eugenics to Designer Babies: Engineering the California Dream." This unprecedented event will bring together scholars, reporters, policy makers, artists, and public interest advocates to address the legacy of eugenics in California and the political and ethical issues stemming from innovations in contemporary genetic science and technology. Free and open to the public. More information: http://www.csus.edu/cshpe/symposium05, or contact Chloe Burke at [email protected], 916-278-5631.

More information on eugenics in California: http://www.csus.edu/cshpe/eugenics/

Book:The Dream of the Perfect Child by Joan Rothschild provides a feminist and disability rights critique of bioethics and attitudes toward reproductive technologies. According to one reviewer, "Others have addressed the societal implications of contemplating 'the perfect child' but no one has written about it so poignantly, so compellingly, and so beautifully."

Book:¿Un Mundo Patentado? La privatización de la vida y del conocimiento (A patented world? The privatization of life and knowledge) Jorge Villarreal, Silke Helfrich, Alejandro Calvillo, eds. This Spanish compilation contains essays from academics and activists from around the world, including a chapter by CGS.

Presentation: "The (mis)use of genetic technologies in the realm of sports: Gene doping," by Rosario M. Isasi, CGS Program Associate for International Affairs and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Public Law Research Center, University of Montréal. Discusses the rationale for and methods of opposing sports doping.

Opinion: "Of baseball and enhancement bondage," San Francisco Chronicle (Sept. 26)
Pete Shanks writes that the debate over drugs in sports is a precursor to more profound questions of science and human "enhancement."

Opinion: In "ADA and the new eugenics," Andrew Imparato and Anne Sommers warn in the Washington Examiner against a rising new eugenics, rooted in genetic and reproductive technologies: "As we mark the 15th anniversary of the [Americans with Disabilities Act], let us hope that the ADA's inclusive vision will provide a strong counterbalance to a resurgent eugenics movement that seems to be forgetting the mistakes that led to the forced sterilization of more than 60,000 Americans and a global effort to 'cleanse' the gene pool."

Opinion: In "Sex selection has a eugenic whiff, so let's call it family balancing instead," Anjana Ahuja asserts in the Times of London that "sanctioning sex selection commodifies children, breaches the unwritten but self-evident rule that children should be loved unconditionally, and will, in practice, give more parental rights to the rich."

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