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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.



A Surrogacy Agency That Delivered Heartacheby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesJuly 27th, 2014As unregulated surrogacy agencies proliferate, the story of Planet Hospital stands as a cautionary tale about their ability to prey on vulnerable clients who do not notice the red flags.
No ‘Rainbow Families’: Ethnic Donor Stipulation at Fertility Centre ‘Floors’ Local Womanby Jessica BarrettCalgary Herald [Canada]July 25th, 2014A Calgary woman was shocked to learn of a policy at the city’s only fertility treatment centre that restricts patients from using sperm, eggs or embryos from donors who do not match their ethnic background.
California Set to Prohibit Sterilization of Prisonersby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2014With the unanimous approval of Senate Bill 1135 in Sacramento last month, the victims of recent unauthorized sterilizations in California prisons, and their advocates, seem likely to win this important victory.
Eugenic Policies of the Past Teach Sobering Lessonsby Calum MacKellarThe ScotsmanJuly 24th, 2014The support of Scottish thinkers for eugenics is revealed in a new book entitled The Ethics of the New Eugenics.
A Whisper Past: Childless after Eugenic Sterilization in Albertaby Moyra LangLiving Archives on Eugenics BlogJuly 21st, 2014Leilani Muir, eugenic survivor, has written her biography and launched it at the Alberta Gallery of Art.
The Perfect 46: A “Science Factual” Film about our Near Futureby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014A new science fiction film called “a sort of prequel to Gattaca” highlights the rise and fall of a genetic startup that analyzes people’s genomes to assess their ability to produce disease-free children.
Cross-Border Surrogacy: Media Spotlight, EU Court Decision, International Forumby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014What happens when people flout their own countries’ laws by going abroad to hire a surrogate in one of the few jurisdictions that allow it?
Would-Be Parents Fleeced, Surrogates Abandoned by Mexican Surrogacy Operation Planet Hospitalby Jane Cowan and Bronwen ReedABC [Australia]July 8th, 2014An unscrupulous surrogacy operation in Mexico has left clients thousands of dollars out of pocket, and dozens of would-be surrogates abandoned.
We're Already Designing Babies[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Olga KhazanThe AtlanticJuly 3rd, 2014Even today, parents are selecting for the traits they want in their offspring. But how far should the genetic tailoring go?
Should We Design Our Babies? [VIDEO] [With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]The Aspen InstituteJuly 2nd, 2014At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Marcy Darnovsky and Nita A. Farahany discuss the possibility and implications of "designer babies."
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