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.
Kim Kardashian recently revealed in an episode of the reality TV show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” that she wants to explore surrogacy for a third child with her partner, Kanye West.
“If you use a surrogate, nobody has to know the whole time,” her sister Kourtney says in a clip from the show. “You could have a baby for a year and nobody would even know.”
This Daily Mail article from Nov. 7 describes the episode. It also chronicles other comments Kim has made about her first two pregnancies and her experience in both of a life-threatening condition called placenta accreta. This is a clinical condition resulting from the placenta, part of whole, attaching to the uterine wall.
“Surrogacy’s been distinguished as something completely different from adoption,” says Lisa Ikemoto, a UC Davis School of Law professor who specializes in reproductive rights and bioethics. Unlike in adoption, there’s no legally required screening of intended parents. A pregnant woman who offers to give her baby up for adoption can reconsider her decision; in California, a pregnant surrogate cannot. To a large extent, the law “puts a lot of trust in a surrogacy center to make sure that these things are carried out appropriately,” Ikemoto says. “It’s very industry-friendly, and by ‘industry,’ I’m referring to the fertility industry.”
This article provides an overview of the Melissa Cook case — the story of a 47-year old woman in California who agreed to become a gestational mother and the “battle” that followed, between her and the intended parent, once she became pregnant with triplets.
Though based in the United States, a number of issues that emerged in the case have also been documented in international commercial surrogacy arrangements. This includes legal concerns related to contracts and their enforcement, practices that can impact the health of gestational mothers (such as reductions), and implications on the children that are born.
For those interested, the article also provides a lot of useful information on the 1986 Baby M case — the first contested surrogacy case in American history. Read the full article >