Tag: in vitro fertilization

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In the Journals–March 2017, Part I by Julia Kowalski

Here is Part I of our March article round-up.

American Anthropologist

A Dog’s Life: Suffering Humanitarianism in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Greg Beckett

In the Bel Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, most residents are dependent on humanitarian and foreign assistance for food, services, aid, and jobs. Yet, some residents feel that the conditions under which such aid is provided actively blocks their ability to live a life they find meaningful. In this article, I explore how some Haitians theorize this humanitarian condition through the figure of the dog, an animal that exemplifies, for Haitians, the deep history of violence, dehumanization, and degradation associated with foreign rule. I then contrast this with how foreign aid workers invoke the figure of the dog to illustrate their compassionate care for suffering others. Drawing on research among Bel Air residents and foreign aid workers in the years after a devastating earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, I show how the figure of the dog is central both to Haitian critiques of humanitarian aid and to the international humanitarian imaginary that responds to forms of suffering it deems cruel.

Biosocieties

“Let’s pull these technologies out of the ivory tower”: The politics, ethos, and ironies of participant-driven genomic research

Michelle L. McGowan, Suparna Choudhury, Eric T. Juengst, Marcie Lambrix, Richard A. Settersten Jr., Jennifer R. Fishman

This paper investigates how groups of ‘citizen scientists’ in non-traditional settings and primarily online networks claim to be challenging conventional genomic research processes and norms. Although these groups are highly diverse, they all distinguish their efforts from traditional university- or industry-based genomic research as being ‘participant-driven’ in one way or another.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Fertility Treatment Failure May Harm Women’s Heart Health

March 14, 2017

(Medical News Today) – Fertility therapy failure may raise the risk of poor heart health for women, according to the results of a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers found that women who did not become pregnant after undergoing gonadotropin-based fertility therapy – treatment often used in preparation for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies – were at greater risk of heart failure and stroke than those whose fertility therapy was successful.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Human germline gene editing full report—a bit more

As Steve Phillips pointed out yesterday, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has published, in book form, its full report on “Human Gene Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.”  On Valentine’s day.  (I suppose it’s not so ironic.)  The entire report may be downloaded for free through this link.  Also available at that page are links to a 4-page summary report and to one-pagers on different aspects of the report.  I urge interested readers to follow the link to the National Academies’ website and read at least the executive summaries.  

Steve asks whether heritable gene editing in humans has “compelling” support, and argues not.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I have agreed, arguing this is a road we ought not to travel.  There have been numerous posts on this blog, notably in 2015, including the December 3, 2015 post with embedded links to other 2015 posts on the subject.  Rather than repeat those here I invite the reader to follow the breadcrumbs.

Steve’s take is that, because of unknown risks to an affected unborn child, editing of said child at the embryo stage, or perhaps even at the germ cell stage, prior to fertilization, should not be undertaken.  The argument FOR doing it is that, in very limited cases in which there is a well-known, single-gene defect whose effects are devastating and for which treatment alternatives are absent or inadequate, parents desiring to have an unaffected child could ethically avail themselves of a gene-editing approach.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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United Can’t Duck Same-Sex Couple’s Suit Over IVF Treatment

February 15, 2017

(Bloomberg) – United Healthcare can’t escape a lawsuit alleging that it illegally refused to cover in vitro fertilization for a same-sex male couple who wanted to have a child by using a surrogate ( Uddoh v. United Healthcare , 2017 BL 41941, E.D.N.Y., No. 1:16-cv-01002, 2/10/17 ).Judge Brian M. Cogan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed the discrimination lawsuit Feb. 10, which was filed by New York attorney Humphrey O. Uddoh and his partner, Plamen Koev. But the judge granted the couple leave to amend their lawsuit, which alleged that United discriminated against them when it reversed its preapproval of coverage after learning they were a same-sex couple.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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IVF, Multiples, and Risk: Buyer Beware

Janet Farrell Leontiou reflects on her experience as an IVF patient who was misled into choosing several multiple embryo transfers.

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A recent article in The Guardian summarizes new research showing that the chance of becoming pregnant following in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be reduced by as much as 27% when more than one embryo is transferred. The reduced pregnancy rate was observed when two embryos were transferred, but only one of these embryos was of good quality. When two embryos of good quality were transferred the pregnancy rate was the same as for single embryo transfer. These facts, which support single embryo transfer, are important given the risks associated with multiple births following multiple embryo transfer.

Several months prior to this article, I had read in a New York Times article on IVF and multiple births that “Consumers can easily be overwhelmed by the available data and be unable to distinguish between good medical practices and a sales pitch.” The statement was attributed to Dr. Mark Sauer, a fertility specialist. As an IVF patient, I was surprised to read this, but the next statement was like a punch to the stomach. The doctor continued: “We all consider twin pregnancy to be an undesirable outcome that can be completely avoided if doctors and patients agree that a single embryo transfer is the right thing to choose.”

I went to a major teaching hospital in New York City for fertility treatment. I assumed that I would be treated by accredited professionals in good standing, not by charlatans.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Bioethics: Democracy in Vitro

Bioethics: Democracy in Vitro

January 25, 2017

(Nature) – Experiments in Democracy reminds me of this painting, in both its ambitious scope and its sense of unease. Science historian Benjamin Hurlbut offers a wide-angle history of US attempts at democratic deliberation on the ethics of human-embryo research. Painstakingly researched and spanning more than four decades — from the advent of in vitro fertilization in the 1970s to contemporary developments such as germline editing — the book draws attention to an intricate interplay between science and democracy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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How to Watch the Biggest Science Story of 2017

Less than three weeks into the new year, gene editing is already set to be one of the biggest stories of 2017.

CRISPR, the latest gene-editing tool, allows scientists to make changes to DNA faster, cheaper, and easier than ever before. There has been an explosion in the number of researchers using this technique over the past two years, and the coming year is sure to see more.

Media coverage of gene editing is also likely to be extensive. And if past experience is a guide, it will include lots of hype and ample confusion. In an effort to provide clarity, here are three key points to watch out for.

1) Germline gene editing and “3-person IVF” are not the same

The first 3-person in vitro fertilization (IVF) (aka “mitochondrial replacement”) birth was reported in September, where a baby with DNA from three people was delivered in Mexico by a New York-based fertility doctor seeking to avoid US regulation. Since then, there has been a tendency in the media to conflate the technique with gene editing.

On New Year’s Day, for example, NPR published a piece on 3-person IVF with the headline “Unexpected Risks Found in Editing Genes to Prevent Inherited Disorders.” After recognizing the error, NPR changed the headline to “Unexpected Risks Found in Replacing DNA to Prevent Inherited Disorders.”

While both germline gene editing and 3-person IVF are technically forms of human germline modification, or the genetic modification of human reproductive cells or embryos, they are completely different procedures.

Gene editing removes, inserts, and/or replaces nuclear DNA sequences in a living organism.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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I Regret Having IVF

I Regret Having IVF

January 13, 2017

(New York Post) – According to the Cerebral Palsy Outreach Network, twins and other multiples are about four times more likely than single birth children to be affected by the disease, a neurological disorder that impairs muscle coordination. Here, Rye, NY, mom Janet Farrell Leontiou, 59, a professor of communications and author of the book “What Do the Doctors Say?,” tells The Post’s JANE RIDLEY why she believes in vitro fertilization (IVF) played a part in creating her son’s disability.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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In the Journals – December 2016, Part II by Anna Zogas

Here is the second part of our article roundup for December (find the first set of articles here). Happy reading, and happy new year!

New Genetics and Society

Redrawing the boundary of medical expertise: medically assisted reproduction and the debate on Italian bioconstitutionalism
Volha Parfenchyk

In 2004, the Italian Parliament passed a controversial law on medically assisted reproduction (Law 40/2004). The Law obliged clinicians to create a maximum of three embryos during one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle and transfer them simultaneously into the patient’s uterus. With this “three embryo” standard, the Parliament sought to secure the realization of rights of IVF embryos. Drawing on the concepts of boundary-work and bioconstitutionalism, this article explores the role that the constitutional obligations of the Italian State towards its citizens, including IVF embryos as its new “citizen subjects,” played in how it envisaged and demarcated the professional boundaries of medical expertise. It argues that the latter depended upon how it balanced its commitments to protect the rights of IVF embryos and those of adult citizens. As such, the demarcation of the jurisdictional boundaries of medical expertise, and the definition of constitutional rights, formed two sides of the same governing project.

Traveling questions: uncertainty and nonknowledge as vehicles of translation in genetic research participation
Klaus Hoeyer

In this paper, I argue that uncertainty and nonknowledge, and not just research results, can be important vehicles of translation through which genetic research participation comes to affect the lives of research participants. Based on interviews with participants in a genetic research project, I outline epistemic, emotional, relational and moral implications of research participation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Single Women’s Reproductive Rights in China

Qian Liu explains that single women in China who are contemplating pregnancy often care more about the attitudes of their parents towards single mothers, than about the laws on assisted reproduction.

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“I don’t care if the law does or doesn’t grant single women reproductive rights. I can get pregnant on my own and give birth if I really want to. But I don’t think I want to be a single mother by choice even if it is legal. What I care about most are the feelings of my parents and my relationship with them.” This is a version of the most common answer I got from 72 Chinese women when I asked them about the law in China which denies unmarried women the right to reproduce using reproductive technologies.

China, a country with a fertility rate of 1.05 children per woman, prohibits offering assisted reproductive technologies to single women. Also, women who choose to be single mothers by choice in China are penalized by the state. They have to pay a social upbringing fee for violating the country’s family planning policy. While lawyers and international media blame these laws for creating barriers to childbearing by single women in China, I argue that these laws are by no means the most significant factors keeping China’s single women from becoming single parents.

Last month, three Chinese NGOs involved in LGBT and gender issues released a report titled “Single Women’s Reproductive Rights – A Research Report on Policy and Lived Experience.” The report suggests that there is a close linkage between unmarried mothers’ miserable experiences and the law’s restrictions on childbearing out of wedlock.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.