Tag: reproductive technologies

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The Future of Bioethics: Organ Transplantation, Genetic Testing, and Euthanasia

By Ana Lita

When you think of bioethics, some of the first hot-button topics you may consider are organ transplantation, fertility and genetic engineering, and end-of-life-care. The Global Bioethics Initiative serves as a platform to address many bioethical questions and engages in public debates to develop resolutions to present and emerging issues.

Dr. Ana Lita, founder of the Global Bioethics Initiative, discusses the various areas GBI addresses and highlights the organization’s contributors in their prospective fields. She acknowledges the valuable contribution of the current president of GBI, Dr. Bruce Gelb, in the field of organ transplantation. She also addresses the original co-founder of GBI, Dr. Charles Debrovner, and his lifelong passion in the field of fertility and genetic engineering. Lastly, Dr. Lita offers a brief insight into the future of Bioethics in these uncertain times.

ORGAN MARKETS AND THE ETHICS OF TRANSPLANTATION 

Recent developments in immunosuppressive drugs and improved surgical techniques have now made it much easier to successfully transplant organs from one human body to another. Unfortunately, these developments have led to the rise of black-markets in human organs. This underground market is where people who need kidneys to survive or to improve the quality of their lives, for example, purchasing such organs from impoverished persons in the developing world. In January 2017, scientists announced that they successfully created the first human-pig hybrid and a pig embryo with some human characteristics. Given the increasing need for transplant organs, should such markets be regulated and legalized?  Could the success of therapeutic cloning eliminate the need to consider this option?

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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Having a Baby at 50

Pop star Janet Jackson, who turns 51 this coming May, gave birth to her first child last week. She and her husband have allegedly been working with a fertility specialist for some time. Many people react with horror, or even disgust, to the idea of this. However, people have had similar emotional reactions to interracial and same-sex marriage. Rather than relying on emotion, I propose the following framework for evaluating reproductive technologies: procreative liberty and procreative responsibility.

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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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Public opinion on legalizing surrogacy in China?

Yegang Su comments on the Chinese government’s apparent interest in public opinion on legalizing surrogacy in China.

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Recently, a news report on surrogacy in China was tweeted by the WeChat public account of Liaowang Institute. The Institute is a high-level, Chinese think tank established by the Central Government’s official news agency, Xinhua. I read the original news report published in China Newsweek, and was surprised to learn about the scale and sophistication of the surrogacy industry in China. (A partial English translation of this news story is available through South China Morning Post.)

The China Newsweek article provides a description of a complex business ecosystem that includes: entrepreneurs, doctors, seekers and bearers of surrogacy services, salespersons and care workers. The news report also uses ‘contract’ language. For example, those providing surrogacy services are hired as “reproductive labourers,” they are paid a monthly wage and their pay fluctuates with the stages of pregnancy. The work involved is explained to the recruited women surrogates as “renting their wombs.” These women are described as between 24 and 32 years of age and married, and they must have previously given birth. Most of the women are reported as being from rural areas and motivated for financial reasons.

Internet Backbone (representation of principal internet data routes)

I forwarded the China Newsweek article to some bioethicists and scientists working on ethical, legal, and social issues related to assisted reproductive technologies in China. The one person who replied, also expressed surprise at how little was known about the practice of surrogacy in China.

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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With 2 children now permitted, Chinese women are thawing embryos

As China relaxes its one-child policy, more women are using frozen embryos to conceive a second child.

The international media gave particular attention to a 46-year-old Chinese woman who gave birth earlier this month using an IVF embryo frozen 16 years ago.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, gave birth via IVF to her first child in 2000, and asked the hospital to freeze her remaining 18 embryos.

A decade and a half later – with the Chinese government having announced its ‘universal two-child policy’ – the woman approached the hospital again to have the other embryos thawed. She has now given birth to a healthy baby boy.

“I’m just really ecstatic to have another child,” the woman told state-news agency Xinhua following the birth of her son.

According to IVF agencies in the country, the average age of women using assisted reproductive technologies has increased as women take advantage of the government’s new policy. 

“In 2016, we received about 1,000 woman above 40 years old seeking to have more babies, and the average age of women to have their eggs retrieved rose from 32.7 years to 33.7 years,” Xu Yanwen, a director at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, told Xinhua.

With Chinese clinics struggling to cope with demand, Australian company Monash IVF has begun to offer a special service for women from mainland China. Monash will treat approximately 100 patients from the mainland this year, with a possibility of more in the future.

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

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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Toddlers Born by Reproductive Treatments Develop Normally

January 13, 2017

(Reuters) – Children born through assisted reproductive technologies have similar cognitive, motor and language development at age two as those born through natural conception, according to a new Canadian study. Researchers saw no differences in skills such as movement, memory, exploration, vocabulary, word combination, and sensory and motor development.

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.

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We Launched a New Website! Surrogacy360

Members of Women’s Rehabilitation Center in Nepal lead community discussions on international surrogacy

This blog was cross-posted from Our Bodies, Our Blog, the blog of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

As the journey to create a family takes more individuals and couples outside their own country in search of less-expensive surrogacy arrangements, it’s easy to find websites offering, for a fee, to broker such arrangements – and difficult to find information not tied to commercial interests. 

Want to know what’s even harder? Finding informative analysis that’s completely transparent about the process and the risks facing all parties: intended parents, paid egg providers, surrogates (or gestational mothers), and children.

In an effort to fill this information gap, Our Bodies Ourselves teamed up with the Center for Genetics and Society to develop Surrogacy360.org, an educational website that provides factual information for people considering parenthood through international commercial surrogacy.

The site launched today. We hope you’ll take a look and send us your feedback.

Why Surrogacy360 – and why now? From women in Central America and South Asia – often marginalized socially, politically, and financially in their community – to educated young women in the United States recruited for genes/eggs perceived as superior, increasing numbers of women are becoming involved in contractual third-party reproduction. The market for their services is global, largely unregulated, and growing. This is leaving a dangerous vacuum, in which women on all sides are persuaded by financial and other incentives in the absence of safety data and redress.

At the other end of these arrangements, there are accounts of intended parents (those that hire gestational mothers) being duped by fertility clinics and recruiting agents.

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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Contribute to a new series: “Aftermath” by Eugene Raikhel

Somatosphere invites readers to submit to “Aftermath,” a new series examining the consequences of recent nationalist political turns throughout the world, including the US election. We are particularly interested in pieces which reflect on how these events intersect with the thematic concerns of the site – health, medicine and science, broadly construed. We especially welcome pieces which draw on original empirical materials or which bring conceptual materials from anthropology, history, sociology, STS, public health, cultural psychiatry and related disciplines to bear on the current situation. In the interest of cultivating vital discussion and circulating ideas quickly in response to a rapidly changing political environment, we encourage submissions that may seem sketchy, drafty, or unpolished.  Potential topics might include but are in no way limited to:

  • Possible effects of the 2016 election on the Affordable Care Act
  • Mental health and the aftermath of the election
  • Health-related dimensions of the Brexit vote and the upswing in nationalist political movements throughout Europe
  • The changing politics and science of:
    • abortion and reproductive technologies
    • climate science
    • evidentiary practices surrounding racial and ethnic categories
    • threats to disabilities policies
  • Resources for teaching about the current political condition, particularly as it affects health, medicine and science
  • Strategies for activist academics in the current political climate

Please send your suggestions for pieces, completed pieces, or inquiries to admin@somatosphere.net

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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Review of Blame: A Novel

Because it is a central theme of this novel, it seems appropriate for me to start this review with my own “conflict of interest” – or as I prefer to see it, my “competing interest.” So I note that my parents and Tony’s parents were friends when we were young children and though he and I were never friends, we were colleagues in adulthood insofar as we attended the same medical/human genetics meetings and conferences and kept in touch with our separate critiques of these issues, even discussing them, when we met.

Readers, therefore, can make their own assessments of my comments about Blame as to whether or not they are “fair” or even unbiased. Readers should also know that though I have a long history of writing and publishing book reviews, both in print and online, with only one exception these have been works of non-fiction; critiquing a novel is something I vowed not to do once the first was complete, but here I am….

Enough about me; the book is what is important here, and it is an important book – especially for those who are not trained in or otherwise familiar with human/medical genetics and the range of ethical, social, legal, and political issues raised by the applications of what is learned in a lab. It is a novel of fiction and a novel of science, often eerily portraying not only what is happening now but what is possibly very soon to come as new technologies are normalized, “monetized,” and enter “ordinary” medical practice.

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.