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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.



DIY sperm test to hit the market this fallby Meghana KeshavanSTAT NewsJune 20th, 2016The semen centrifuge called Trak will calculate sperm count but not sperm motility or other factors that affect fertility.
Do women who donate their eggs run a health risk?by Sandra G. BoodmanThe Washington PostJune 20th, 2016People who make egg donations may feel exploited during the process and experience serious health consequences due to a dearth of research on the effects of egg retrieval.
Subsidised egg freezing isnít the answer to Japanís birth rateby Angel PetropanagosNew ScientistJune 17th, 2016The health risks of egg retrieval make Japan's publicly-funded egg freezing initiative a poor solution to the country's problem of population shrinkage.
House votes to expand compensation for eugenics victims by Colin CampbellThe News & ObserverJune 13th, 2016Some victims of forced sterilizations in the 20th century have yet to be compensated for the eugenics program.
The Politics of Womenís Eggsby Diane ToberUndarkJune 10th, 2016Scientists are eager to pay women for their eggs, but they are less interested in understanding the long-term health impacts of egg donation.
Swiss back genetic testing of embryos (again)by Celia LuterbacherSwiss InfoJune 5th, 2016PGD and PGS hold potential to help couples conceive but also threaten a "slippery slope toward eugenics."
White Southern Girlhood and Eugenics: A Talk With Historian Karin Zipf by Tina VasquezRewireMay 27th, 2016The same white supremacy that declared Black men and women to be hypersexual also subjected troubled or abused white girls to incarceration and state-sponsored sterilizations to make sure the teens did not pass on "bad" genes.
Should Women Be Able to Abort a Fetus Just Because Itís Female?by Emma GreenThe AtlanticMay 16th, 2016A new wave of state legislation that prohibits abortion based on sex, race, and genetic abnormality, is "meant to put women in this queasy position of having to justify two things that might not fit together in one political belief."
Controversial Italian fertility doctor accused of stealing patient's eggby Stephanie KirchgaessnerThe Guardian [UK]May 15th, 2016A patient has accused an Italian fertility doctor of forcibly operating on her and harvesting her eggs.
Fertility watchdog Ďincreasingly concernedí about dubious treatments sold by private clinics as experts warn childless couples are being exploitedby Ian JohnstonThe Independent [UK]May 15th, 2016Private fertility clinics may be offering "add-on" treatments that are unwarranted and ineffective, with consequences for patients' health and finances.
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