Tag: reproductive technologies

Bioethics News

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.

Bioethics Blogs

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.

Bioethics Blogs

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.

Bioethics Blogs

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.

Bioethics Blogs

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.

Bioethics News

The Next Frontier in Reproductive Tourism? Genetic Modification

November 21, 2016

(The Conversation) – Medical tourism for assisted reproductive technologies raises a host of legal and ethical questions. While new reproductive technologies, like mitochondrial replacement, promise to bring significant benefits, the absence of regulations means that some of these questions, including those related to safety and risks are unanswered, even as people are starting to use them.

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

Clarifying the AHR Act After 12 Long Years

Alana Cattapan calls on Health Canada to ensure substantive public engagement including surrogates and gamete donors in policymaking on assisted reproduction.

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On October 1, 2016 the Government of Canada announced that it will be introducing regulations to clarify and implement the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (2004), twelve years after its passage. In addition to improving screening and testing for gamete donors, the new regulations will “clarify eligible reimbursable expenses for parties involved in surrogacy arrangements, and semen and ova donation.”

Currently, reimbursements of “expenditures” for surrogates, sperm donors, and egg donors can occur when receipts are available “in accordance with the regulations.” However, since the passage of the Act there have been no regulations. As a result, it has been unclear whether, how, and for what reimbursements can occur. The new regulations will provide guidance about what is a legitimate expense under the law, ensuring that people helping others have a child are not out of pocket in doing so. Presuming that they are enforced, the regulations should also work to ensure that reimbursements to surrogates and gamete donors occur within the bounds of the law.

While clarity in the Act’s provisions on reimbursements is an important goal, the process being used to develop the regulations has continued the long-standing practice of failing to include surrogates and gamete donors in policy consultations.

The announcement of the proposed regulations follows a controversial consultation process about the reimbursement of expenditures under the Act. In 2015, Health Canada asked the Canadian Standards Association to develop voluntary standards on the reimbursement of expenditures in accordance with the Act.

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

Reflections on Egg Donation in Canada

Claire Burns recommends legal and practical changes for promoting the ethical treatment of egg donors within Canada.

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Have you heard? The Government of Canada plans to introduce regulations to support the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004! Amazing! I’m jumping for joy! After more than 12 years, the government may finally make good on its promise to protect the interests of women involved in assisted reproduction.

I’m Claire, and I am an egg donor.  I am also an egg donor advocate. Much of my advocacy work is done through the We are Egg Donors website. As part of that work, sometimes I get asked to be speak on the radio or to talk to journalists. ALWAYS I am asked, “how much do you think egg donors should get paid?” Often the question is asked as if it’s news that women are getting paid to sell parts of their bodies. Yeah. That’s a real modern day news story.  Let me tell you Canada, illegal payments and reimbursement to so-called ‘donors’ is only the TIP of the ethical iceberg. Swim deep here with me friends, swim deep.

According to the Government notice from Health Canada, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act “was written to be a comprehensive legislative framework to help protect and promote the health, safety, dignity and rights of individuals who use or are born of assisted human reproductive technologies in Canada.” The problem with this statement is that egg donors don’t technically USE assisted human reproductive technologies. Rather, reproductive technologies are USED on us.

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

Hidden from View: Canadian Surrogacy

Pamela M. White questions why we know so little about Canadian surrogacy practices and outcomes.

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Canadian researchers, ethicists, and lawyers often lament the fact that there exists very little empirical data about Canadian surrogacy practices and outcomes. As a former Statistics Canada Director and data analyst (now teaching medical law and ethics at the Kent Law School, Canterbury, United Kingdom) this data deficit has long intrigued me.

Both traditional surrogacy (where the woman is genetically related to the child she gives birth to) and gestational surrogacy (where the woman is not genetically related to the child she gives birth to) are legally permitted in Canada. In both cases, the arrangements must be altruistic, since commercial surrogacy is not permitted.

Though altruistic surrogacy is legal in Canada, attempts to find information about the kind of women who choose to be surrogates, the type of surrogacy that is commonly practiced, and how many children are born to Canadian surrogates, have been challenging.

I have not been able to obtain statistics on the incidence of traditional surrogacy. Whether artificial insemination of a surrogate occurs in a fertility clinic or at home without the involvement of a medical practitioner, surrogacy procedures are not currently recorded in any existing assisted human reproduction data system.

I have been able to gather some information about gestational surrogacy, even so the findings are limited. In theory, data from gestational surrogacy could be more easily tracked than data about traditional surrogacy because it requires IVF, which must be performed in a fertility clinic. However, Canada, unlike the United States or the United Kingdom, does not require fertility clinics to transmit IVF treatment data to a public health authority. 

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.