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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 Rights of Donor-Conceived Offspringby Naomi Cahn, Biopolitical Times guest contributorApril 15th, 2015While their parents’ choices affect them as children, donor-conceived children grow up, and many become curious about their origins. The law’s tight focus on the parent-child relationship excludes legal questions relating to donor-conceived adults.
Calling for “More than a Moratorium” on Human Germline Modificationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015A broader array of critical responses and policy suggestions follows recent reports that the gene-editing technique CRISPR has been used to genetically modify human sperm, eggs or embryos.
Genetic Engineering & The Future of Humankindby Jamie MetzlIvy MagazineApril 9th, 2015We’re on the verge of this fundamental transformation, not just of our reproductive processes, but of how we think of ourselves as humans.
Attorneys: Sterilizations were Part of Plea Deal Talksby  Sheila BurkeAssociated PressMarch 28th, 2015Nashville prosecutors have made sterilization of women part of plea negotiations at least four times in the past five years.
A Modern Woman's Burden[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Natalie LampertNew RepublicMarch 20th, 2015How much does egg-freezing technology help delay reproduction?
States aren't Eager to Regulate Fertility Industry[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Michael OlloveUSA TodayMarch 19th, 2015Compared to many other industrialized nations, neither the U.S. nor state governments do much to oversee the multibillion-dollar assisted reproduction industry.
“High IQ Eggs Wanted” – ads appeal to ego and altruism, offer $10,000by Lisa C. Ikemoto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMarch 19th, 2015The ABCs of egg donation are SAT, IQ, and college ranking, not to mention youth, race, and good looks, but marketing motivates young women with a carefully calibrated ratio of altruism and financial need.
Industry Body Calls for Gene-Editing Moratoriumby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewMarch 12th, 2015Gene-editing companies say research on altering the DNA of human reproductive cells is dangerous and unethical.
How Fear Fuels the Business of Egg Freezingby Danielle PaquetteThe Washington PostMarch 6th, 2015The procedure’s popularity and low odds of success have heightened tension between marketers and some doctors: What is responsible advertising — and what is fear mongering?
Pregnant Women Are Finding Out They Have Cancer From A Genetic Test Of Their Babiesby Virginia HughesBuzzFeedMarch 5th, 2015When it comes to prenatal tests, it’s not clear whether incidental findings have clear-cut diagnostic value. And false positives might spur a pregnant woman to go through unnecessary medical procedures.
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