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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.



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, 2015The Utah Legislature has ventured into the "Wild West of the fertility industry" by passing a law giving children conceived via sperm donation access to the medical histories of their biological fathers.
“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.
Fertility Clinic Courts Controversy With Treatment That Recharges Eggsby Rob SteinNPRMarch 5th, 2015OvaScience hopes to eventually bring the technique to infertile couples in the United States. But the Food and Drug Administration has blocked that effort — pending proof that the technique works and is safe.
Virginia Votes Compensation for Victims of its Eugenic Sterilization Programby Jaydee Hanson, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMarch 5th, 2015Virginia’s eugenic sterilization law was revoked in 1979. It has taken 35 years for the state to decide to provide financial reparations for its victims, each of whom will receive $25,000.
With World Watching, UK Allows Experiments to Genetically Alter Babiesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMarch 4th, 2015Despite several possibly insurmountable legal and safety hurdles, the House of Lords gave the final approval needed to move into fertility clinics the embryo modification techniques referred to as “mitochondrial donation.”
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