Tag: ovaries

Bioethics News

Rejuvenating the Chance of Motherhood?

December 12, 2016

(MIT Technology Review) – Natasha’s obstetrician next offered an unusual option: the couple could try a new method meant to improve the odds of IVF, offered by a Boston-area company called OvaScience. The approach, called Augment (for Autologous Germline Mitochondrial Energy Transfer), is so far available only in Canada and Japan ­(OvaScience hasn’t yet sought approval from U.S. regulators). It required the doctor to gather cells from one of Natasha’s ovaries and harvest their mitochondria—the tiny power plants that fuel our cells. These extracted mitochondria would then be injected into one of her eggs along with her husband’s sperm, and the embryo would be transferred to her uterus during a standard IVF procedure.

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.

Bioethics News

Infertility Breakthrough as Cancer Drug Sparks Growth of New Eggs in ‘Astonishing’ Discovery

December 6, 2016

(The Telegraph) – Infertile women have been offered new hope after scientists found that a common cancer drug triggers the development of new eggs, an outcome which was previously thought to be impossible. In a discovery hailed as “astonishing”, researchers at the University of Edinburgh proved it is possible to reverse the clock and coax the ovaries back into a pre-pubescent state where they begin to produce new eggs.

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.

Bioethics News

Increase in IVF Complications Raises Concerns Over Use of Fertility Drugs

November 15, 2016

(The Guardian) – Increased numbers of women suffered from a serious complication of IVF last year, according to official figures that raise concerns about the use of powerful fertility drugs. In 2015, 60 women were admitted to hospital with severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a 40% increase on the previous year. The condition, which is triggered when the ovaries swell up and leak fluid, is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms include abdominal swelling and pain, nausea, dehydration and blood clots in the legs.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Politicize my Bioethics: Compensation for egg cells

by Celina Malavé

“This is my first piece in a series I’m thinking about calling “Politicize my bioethics,” a series that works to give us examples upon which it is absolutely crucial to bring in politics (or really just notice because they are already there), particularly when we are thinking critically about a bioethical issue. In a perfect world, we would be able to have every single identity represented at the table when we are thinking critically about the intersection of medicine, technology, and ethics, but since that is not the case, we must then acknowledge and be aware of the identities each of us is bringing to the table as we work to be future leaders in bioethics.” – Celina Malavé

Egg donation is a recent development in the field of reproductive medicine in which healthy women voluntarily provide around 10-20 mature eggs, or oocytes, for research or assisted reproduction, in exchange for compensation. Prior to donating, donors undergo blood tests—which check hormone levels, blood type, and other markers—a pelvic exam, medical exam, and other evaluations to ensure mental preparedness for donation.[i]  Legal consent forms must also be signed and agreed upon by all parties involved.

To begin the donation process, the donor takes birth control to regulate her menstrual cycle. She is then given a series of powerful hormones injections for weeks prior to donation. A first round of hormones halts ovarian function while a second causes the woman to over-ovulate in order to produce multiple eggs. A final round of injections causes her to release the mature eggs before a minor, yet invasive surgery, is performed to collect the oocytes.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Egg Freezing in China: Liberty or Despair?

Jing-Bao Nie comments on how, in different ways, inadequate social supports for reproduction and parenting, and the prohibition on social egg freezing by single women in China limit women’s reproductive liberty.

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A recent article in The New York Times reports that some Chinese women, wishing to postpone motherhood, are traveling to North America to freeze their eggs. While the technology for this procedure is available in China, Chinese regulations currently prohibit unmarried women from accessing this and other assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF.

In a Western context, some of the ethical issues surrounding ‘social’ egg freezing have been discussed in recent Impact Ethics posts. For example, Angel Petropanagos points out problems with the social biases in favour of pregnancy and motherhood. Lucy Morgan has questions whether egg freezing is a genuinely autonomous decision or just “an illusory choice.” Both argue that ethical discussions should move beyond individual reproductive autonomy.

As I see it, the fact that single Chinese women who want egg freezing must travel overseas to do so calls attention to a state violation of reproductive liberty as well as inadequate social supports for childbearing and child-raising in China.

Air China Boeing 777-200 Photo Credit: Duan Zhu (2011)

While obvious political and socio-cultural differences exist between China and western countries like Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, some fundamental ethical issues concerning human reproduction are similar. Most importantly, in both contexts there are underlying issues about women’s reproductive liberty and the lack of sufficient social supports related to reproduction and parenting.

Too often current global debates on women’s reproductive rights are regarded as merely Western ideas.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Special Issues: Psy Sciences and Healthism by Anna Zogas

In advance of our regular monthly journal round-up, here are two special issues to check out! First, the brand new June 2016 issue of East Asian Science, Technology and Society is titled Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia. Next, a special double issue of Eä – Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology (open access) is titled Healthism & Self-Care: Reconfiguring Body & Life through Science & Technology. Enjoy!

East Asian Science, Technology and Society

Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia

From the 1970s onward, the psy sciences were witness to blustering confrontations from a New Age movement heavily informed by Asian philosophy. Nowadays, yoga practices and mindfulness training have been integrated into mainstream psychotherapy. Nevertheless, such trends toward East-West admixing are in fact not at all new. Through four case studies, this special issue provides empirical data complementing the abundance of new scholarship on the history of psy sciences in East and Southeast Asia.

Making and Mapping Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia (open access)
Harry Yi-Jui WuWen-Ji Wang

The rich history of psy disciplines or psy sciences (psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis) in modern society has been subject to different and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Major events, theories, and figures have been recorded and the meaning of their contributions explored to illustrate the ways in which various forms of psychological knowledge become important sources of self-understanding and self-actualization. Insights into the social and cultural history of psy sciences enable us to understand the interconnection between forms of knowledge and the social order to which they relate (Eghigian et al.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Whose Body, Whose Property, What Choice?

“I would not have done this if it weren’t for the money.”

The words of Aasia Khan, an Indian woman acting as a surrogate for an American couple in the documentary Made in India, echoed through the sound system at The New School’s panel entitled “Whose Body, What Choice: Egg Provision, Gestational Surrogacy, and Extending Parenthood”. In addition to viewing clips from Vaishali Sinha and Rebecca Haimowitz’s award-winning documentary, panelists spanning health psychology, queer studies, law, media studies, and life science came together to discuss how emerging reproductive technologies support new forms of family making, invoke bodies in labor and care, and provide bioresources for a burgeoning stem cell industry.

Psychologist Lisa Rubin, queer studies scholar Laura Mamo, and filmmaker Vaishali Sinha described the ways that Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has become a common practice in Western countries, yet increasingly more dependent on bodies abroad. As more individuals view ART as a “natural” part of their personal reproductive journey, many assume that the techniques involved in ovarian hyperstimulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogacy are FDA-approved and safe. But few are aware of the necessary labor involved and the potential inequities that can arise with increased use of ART.

As a result of shifting legislation, there is both limited access to and varied payment for bodies, cells, and tissues used in the reproductive and stem cell contexts, with little regard to the labor and potential health outcomes of all involved. As one attendee commented, she was unaware of the details involved in the egg retrieval surgical procedure which requires puncturing hyperstimulated ovaries—a separate puncture for each egg removed. 

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Sex/Gender: Part I: Why Now? by Constance Cummings

A Critical Moment: Sex/Gender Research at the Intersections of Culture, Brain, and Behavior

FPR-UCLA 2016 Conference Summary

Emerging theories in neuroscience – fueled by new technologies in brain imaging and recording along with torrents of new data – offer a profoundly different view of the human brain – part of a “tangled skein” of extended brain-body-behavior networks that are dynamic, plastic, adaptable, and “in constant dialog” with the environment (Rebeiz, Patel, & Hinman, 2015; Byrge, Sporns, & Smith, 2014). At the same time, shifts in how we think about sex determination, sexual differentiation, sexual orientation, and gender identities, as well as significant changes in the ecologies of sex and gender driven by globalization, are forcing us to reconsider our theoretical ideas and categories. These shifts have sparked entirely new sets of questions, debates, and tensions both between the neuro- and social sciences and in terms of addressing sex/gender disparities. The organizers of the FPR’s 6th interdisciplinary conference at UCLA (October 23–24, 2015) identified this juncture as a “critical moment” for integrating ideas from different fields on sex/gender in culture, brain, and behavior. Co-chaired by biologist Art Arnold and anthropologists Gil Herdt and Carol Worthman, the conference sought to address the following questions: Why now? What’s fixed, changeable, changing? What’s at stake, what makes a difference and why?

Anne Fausto-Sterling (Brown University), who gave the keynote talk (“Gender as Process Not Trait: Dynamic Approaches to the Origins of Difference During Infancy” link to video), studies infants from a dynamic systems theoretic perspective, with a focus on the processes underlying the emergence of male/female differences in “the big three” – language, motor activity, and toy preference – by age three.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Uterus Transplants: Identifying Stakeholders & Objections

On February 25, the Cleveland Clinic announced that the first “womb” transplant had been successfully completed in the US, using a uterus from a deceased donor. The 26-year old recipient, identified as Lindsey, joined a press conference on March 7 in a wheelchair and expressed her gratitude. On March 9, the clinic released a second media statement:  Lindsey’s uterus transplant had been removed due to a “sudden complication.” As NPR noted, the clinical trial will continue— nine women with uterine factor infertility still await the procedure in Cleveland. Their motivation to continue with the grueling, risk-laden procedure may be similar to Lindsey’s:

“I crave that experience,” she said. “I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel the baby move. That is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember.”

The future of reproduction has never appeared so technologically complex. Amid ongoing policy debates about gene-editing embryos, and the potential spread of “3-person IVF” from the UK to the US, we’ve also seen a rapid increase of clinical trials for a revolutionary surgical procedure: womb transplants—i.e. temporary uterus transplantation into “genetic females” born without uteruses (but with working ovaries) for the purpose of enabling pregnancy for one or two genetically related IVF offspring.

An early effort at uterus transplantation was conducted in Germany in 1931 on Lili Elbe, who is historically identified as both transgender and intersex, and who died shortly thereafter. (Her story is told in The Danish Girl.)

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Proof that Jahi McMath is Now Alive

This week, the family of Jahi McMath filed an amended complaint in its medical malpractice action against Oakland Children’s and one of its physicians.  

In this amended complaint, Jahi’s family explains how they will prove Jahi is still alive (and thus entitled to medical malpractice damages).  The key paragraphs are 30 to 36.  The 
highlighting is mine.

30.  Since the Certificate of Death was issued, Jahi has been examined by a 
physician duly licensed to practice in the State of California who is an experienced pediatric neurologist with triple Board Certifications in Pediatrics,  Neurology (with special competence in Child Neurology), and Electroencephalography. The physician has a sub-specialty in brain death and has published and lectured extensively on the topic, both nationally and internationally.  This physician has personally examined Jahi and has reviewed a number of her medical records and studies performed, including an MRI/MRA done at Rutgers University Medical Center on September 26, 2014. This doctor has also examined 22 videotapes of Jahi responding to specific requests to respond and move.

31.  The MRI scan of September 26, 2014, is not consistent with chronic brain death MRI scans. Instead, Jahi’s MRI demonstrates vast areas of structurally and relatively preserved brain, particularly in the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia and cerebellum.

32.  The MRA or MR angiogram performed on September 26, 2014, nearly 10 months after Jahi’s anoxic-ischemic event, demonstrates intracranial blood flow, which is consistent with the integrity of the MRI and inconsistent with brain death.

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.