The Contemporary Genetic Landscape
Marsha Darling | Tarrytown Meetings | 2010
In a very concrete way, women’s bodies are the gateway to the manipulation of human genes.
In this talk, Marsha Darling, director of the Center for African, Black, and Caribbean Studies at Adelphi University, summarizes some of the core issues and challenges raised by new genetic and reproductive biotechnologies, including their use in surrogacy and paid egg donation.
The Tarrytown Meetings were convened in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to “address challenges raised by profoundly consequential human biotechnologies and related emerging technologies.” Discussion topics at the meetings included sex selection, trait selection, commercial surrogacy, use of women’s eggs for fertility and research, and gamete donor anonymity. The meetings were organized by the Center for Genetics and Society, and held at the Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Risk Disclosure and the Recruitment of Oocyte Donors: Are Advertisers Telling the Full Story?
By Hillary B. Alberta, Roberta M. Berry, and Aaron D. Levine | Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Neurosciences Summer 2014, pp. 232 – 243)
From the study’s abstract:
This study analyzes 435 oocyte donor recruitment advertisements to assess whether entities recruiting donors of oocytes to be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures include a disclosure of risks associated with the donation process in their advertisements. Such disclosure is required by the self-regulatory guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and by law in California for advertisements placed in the state. We find very low rates of risk disclosure across entity types and regulatory regimes, although risk disclosure is more common in advertisements placed by entities subject to ASRM’s self-regulatory guidelines. Advertisements placed in California are more likely to include risk disclosure, but disclosure rates are still quite low. California-based entities advertising outside the state are more likely to include risk disclosure than non-California entities, suggesting that California’s law may have a modest “halo effect.” Our results suggest that there is a significant ethical and policy problem with the status quo in light of the known and unknown risks of oocyte donation and the importance of risk disclosure to informed consent in the context of oocyte donation.
Please contact us or the journal directly for a copy of the full study.
The Cost of Life
By Justine Griffin | The Sarasota Herald Tribune | 2014
In this article, organized into chapters, the author describes her own experience as an egg provider and details the stories of others – including one woman who has so little trouble that she donates five times, and another who develops severe endometriosis symptoms.
One night last summer at my parent’s dinner table, I told my mom and dad that I wanted to help somebody have a baby. The usual lively suppertime conversation and laughter died down, and my parents lost their appetites. They didn’t want to joke about that time I drove my brother’s four-wheeler into a tree anymore.
I told them I am like the thousands of other women — the daughters, sisters, girlfriends or wives at someone else’s dinner table — who donate their eggs to couples who cannot conceive a child on their own.
Read the full article >
The Gestational Surrogacy Report: IVF by the Numbers
By David Sable | Forbes | April 28, 2016
Published in the first quarter of 2016, this report tracks clinics providing surrogacy services in the United States (208), as well as the number of surrogacy cases in each clinic. It records approximately 900 cycles of IVF using gestational surrogacy in 2014. The data is approximate – and the report explains why – and will have changed since the date of publication. However, it is still a useful resource for anyone looking for a list of clinics across the country.
View the full list >
By Peter R. Brinsden | Human Reproduction Update (Vol. 9, No.5, 2003, pp. 483 – 491)
From the study’s abstract:
Gestational surrogacy is a treatment option available to women with certain clearly defined medical problems, usually an absent uterus, to help them have their own genetic children. IVF allows the creation of embryos from the gametes of the commissioning couple and subsequent transfer of these embryos to the uterus of a surrogate host. The indications for treatment include absent uterus, recurrent miscarriage, repeated failure of IVF and certain medical conditions. Treatment by gestational surrogacy is straightforward and follows routine IVF procedures for the commissioning mother, with the transfer of fresh or frozen–thawed embryos to the surrogate host. The results of treatment are good, as would be expected from the transfer of embryos derived from young women and transferred to fit, fertile women who are also young. Clinical pregnancy rates achieved in large series are up to 40% per transfer and series have reported 60% of hosts achieving live births. The majority of ethical or legal problems that have arisen out of surrogacy have been from natural or partial surrogacy arrangements. The experience of gestational surrogacy has been largely complication‐free and early results of the follow‐up of children, commissioning couples and surrogates are reassuring. In conclusion, gestational surrogacy arrangements are carried out in a few European countries and in the USA. The results of treatment are satisfactory and the incidence of major ethical or legal complications has been limited. IVF surrogacy is therefore a successful treatment for a small group of women who would otherwise not be able to have their own genetic children.
Read the full study >
A Brief History of Donor Conception
by Wendy Kramer | The Huffington Post | May 10, 2016
In a timeline stretching from the year 1322 up through the late 1980s, Wendy Kramer, co-founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry, highlights the development and use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) around the world.
View the full timeline >
The Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) was founded in 2000 to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation that are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties. DSR advocates for the right to honesty and transparency for donor children, and for social acceptance, legal rights and valuing the diversity of all families. For more information, visit the website.
The Incidence of Both Serious and Minor Complications in Young Women Undergoing Oocyte Donation
By Kara N. Maxwell, M.D., Ph.D., Ina N. Cholst, M.D., and Zev Rosenwaks, M.D. | Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 90, No. 6, December 2008, pp. 2165 – 2171)
From the study’s abstract:
This study provides information on the incidence of serious complications experienced by oocyte donors after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and oocyte retrieval. It provides evidence that with careful monitoring, and when a liberal cancellation policy is followed, oocyte donors experience lower rates of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, compared with infertile women undergoing IVF. Furthermore, the study provides the first set of data on the rate of symptomatic minor complications experienced by oocyte donors. This information will help clinicians administer appropriate informed consent to the young women who present themselves as potential oocyte donors.
Read the full study >
Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies
By Miriam Zoll | Interlink Publishing Group | 2013
Buy at Amazon >
Foreword by Judy Norsigian, co-founder and former executive director, Our Bodies Ourselves, and Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy
From the book description:
Cracked Open is Miriam Zoll’s eye-opening account of growing into womanhood with the simultaneous opportunities offered by the women’s movement and new discoveries in reproductive technologies. Influenced by pervasive media and cultural messages suggesting that science had finally eclipsed Mother Nature, Zoll –– like millions of women –– delays motherhood until the age of 40.
When things don’t progress as she had hoped, she and her husband enter a science-fiction world of medical seduction, capitalist conception and bioethical quagmires. Desperate to conceive, they turn to unproven treatments and procedures only to learn that the odds of becoming parents through reproductive medicine are far less than they and their generation had been led to believe.
Visit Miriam Zoll’s website to learn more >
Watch Miriam Zoll talk about her experience with infertility, IVF, and the search for an egg provider in an excerpt from The Cycle Forum.
Family-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges
By Francoise Baylis and Carolyn McLeod | Oxford University Press | 2014
Buy at Amazon >
This book discusses the ethics of making families with children via adoption or assisted reproductive technologies.
Excerpt from a review by Vida Panitch, Associate Professor at Carleton University:
The editors set out to canvas the moral terrain of nontraditional family making, or family making through adoption and/or assisted reproductive technology (ART). And they have brought together papers that shed important light on the various contemporary ethical challenges that couples and individuals face depending on the manner in which they choose to welcome children into their lives. Of equal interest to Baylis and McLeod are questions regarding the duties of parents as well the duties of the state with respect to families formed via ART and adoption. Discussions as to the unique values and duties associated with families forged by these means are counterbalanced with papers on the permissibility (or necessity) of regulative state policies on everything from parental licensing, to anonymous gamete donation, to contract pregnancy.
More information >
For more by Françoise Baylis, read:
Sama – Resource Group for Women and Health
India | 1999
Sama is a Delhi-based organization working on issues of women’s health and human rights. A key focus is assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and international commercial surrogacy.
Sama documents and makes visible the experiences of gestational mothers and the risks they face in international commercial surrogacy arrangements. The organization examines issues within the framework of gender, class, caste, religion, ethnicity, and other power dynamics within South Asian society and between South Asia and other countries/regions. Visit Sama’s website for more information.
Aside from the acclaimed film “Can We See the Baby Bump Please?” and report “Birthing A Market,” Sama has produced a vital collection of research on ARTs and surrogacy.
Their publications include:
- ART Policy Brief, critiquing the provisions of the Draft ART Bill of 2010.
- Constructing Conceptions, documenting the lived experiences of women of different class and caste backgrounds who access ARTs to have a biological child.
- Unraveling the Fertility Industry (2010), based on an international consultation organized by Sama in 2010, focussing on the commercial, economic, and ethical aspects of ARTs.
- Consultation on “New” Reproductive and Genetic Technologies and Women’s Lives (2006), raising awareness about ARTs and their implications, potential drawbacks, and collective strategies to combat the issues surrounding ARTs.
- ARTs and Women (2006), demonstrating how the ART sector cashes on the social stigma of infertility and the patriarchal pressures on women to have a biologically-related child.
Visit Sama’s website for a full list.