By Reveal | The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX | Sept. 15, 2018
Originally broadcast in June 2017, around the 40th anniversary of in vitro fertilization, this podcast follows a couple that “puts its trust in a fertility clinic that promises more than it can deliver.” It explores the world of fertility treatment and the clinics and intended parents it brings together with promises of forming families.
For decades, the field of bioethics has shaped the way we think about ethical problems in science, technology, and medicine. But its traditional emphasis on individual interests such as doctor-patient relationships, informed consent, and personal autonomy is minimally helpful in confronting the social and political challenges posed by new human biotechnologies such as assisted reproduction, human genetic modification, and DNA forensics. Beyond Bioethics addresses these provocative issues from an emerging standpoint that is attentive to race, gender, class, disability, privacy, and notions of democracy—a “new biopolitics.”
This authoritative volume provides an overview for those grappling with the profound dilemmas posed by these developments. It brings together the work of cutting-edge thinkers from diverse fields of study and public engagement, all of them committed to this new perspective grounded in social justice and public interest values.
Since the first U.S. infant conceived with assisted reproductive technology (ART) was born in 1981, both the use of ART and the number of fertility clinics providing ART services have increased steadily in the United States. ART includes fertility treatments in which eggs or embryos are handled in the laboratory (i.e., in vitro fertilization [IVF] and related procedures). Although the majority of infants conceived through ART are singletons, women who undergo ART procedures are more likely than women who conceive naturally to deliver multiple-birth infants. Multiple births pose substantial risks for both mothers and infants, including obstetric complications, preterm delivery (<37 weeks), and low birthweight (<2,500 g) infants. This report provides state-specific information for the United States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) on ART procedures performed in 2015 and compares birth outcomes that occurred in 2015 (resulting from ART procedures performed in 2014 and 2015) with outcomes for all infants born in the United States in 2015.
In the mid-1990s, the international community pronounced prenatal sex selection via abortion an “act of violence against women” and “unethical.” At the same time, new developments in reproductive technology in the United States led to a method of sex selection before conception; its US inventor marketed the practice as “family balancing” and defended it with the rhetoric of freedom of choice. In Gender before Birth, Rajani Bhatia takes on the double standard of how similar practices in the West and non-West are divergently named and framed.
Bhatia’s extensive fieldwork includes interviews with clinicians, scientists, biomedical service providers, and feminist activists, and her resulting analysis extends both feminist theory on reproduction and feminist science and technology studies. She argues that we are at the beginning of a changing transnational terrain that presents new challenges to theorized inequality in reproduction, demonstrating how the technosciences often get embroiled in colonial gender and racial politics.
The Hastings Center focuses on ethical and social issues in health care, science, and technology. The organization describes itself as “the oldest independent, nonpartisan, interdisciplinary research institute of its kind in the world,” producing original research, voice, and service to the field of bioethics, helping shape lay and institutional thinking on ways biotechnologies impact the health and human rights of those involved.