Assisted Reproduction

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are usually used to treat infertility. One of the most common technologies is in vitro fertilization (IVF), an ART procedure in which sperm and eggs are joined outside the body, and the resulting embryo is transferred to a uterus in an effort to establish a pregnancy. Surrogacy is another form of assisted reproduction that involves a woman who agrees, as a third party, to be impregnated with, gestate, and deliver the embryo of another couple or person, often in exchange for payment.

Although ARTs help some people find new avenues to have the children they’ve always wanted, they can pose significant safety risks that are often overlooked. For instance, extracting eggs from the body typically involves taking hormonal drugs to promote the simultaneous development of multiple eggs. This is true whether the eggs are for one’s own IVF treatment, for someone else’s, or to provide materials for researchers. Yet evidence about the severity and extent of risks from egg retrieval is widely recognized as inadequate. A common short-term risk is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is often a mild reaction, but it can become serious enough to require hospitalization and, in rare cases, can cause death.

There is also strong concern about the common imbalances of power among the parties involved in assisted reproduction, particularly because policies pertaining to third-party assisted reproduction vary widely. Some jurisdictions prohibit surrogacy while others limit compensation to expenses and lost wages. In a number of U.S. states and a few other areas, surrogacy is permitted as a market transaction, often with little or no oversight. This has led some prospective parents to leave their own countries in order to avoid regulations or to save money, a phenomenon known as “cross-border reproductive care” or “reproductive tourism.” 


Biopolitical Times

What might have been the story of the year turned out to be a disappointment. On February 14th, the National Academies delivered a valentine to those who want to commit germline gene editing. Its much anticipated report, Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance concluded that scientists should “proceed with caution.” This was the first time that human germline modification has ever been given a green light by a comparable body – the U.S. National Academies is an influential non-governmental...

Biopolitical Times

The November 2017 issue of Nature Biotechnology included a special focus on “Humans 2.0.” The articles (currently available for free) cover a range of genetic and reproductive technologies.

Standout articles include Amber Dance’s “Better Beings,” which provides an overview of recent germline editing research and explores policy, social, and ethical implications from different perspectives. Quoting CGS executive director Marcy Darnovsky, and scholars Rosemarie Garland-Thomson and Charis Thompson, Dance lays out social justice arguments opposing germline editing...

Aggregated News

EXCLUSIVE: Demand for IVF in China has surged since the one-child policy was scrapped, but unmarried women are denied access....

Aggregated News

First, let me tell you how smart I am. So smart. My fifth-grade teacher said I was gifted in...