E-mail Updates

Enter your e-mail address to receive occasional updates and previews from The New Atlantis.

Support Our Work - Donate to The New Atlantis

Browse By Topic

Assisted Reproductive Technologies


Articles

The Blessing of Children

Summer 2012Gilbert Meilaender on the curious case for extinction in Why Have Children?

Paid Parenthood

Spring 2012Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on why people sell their eggs and sperm

The Near Miracle of Male Infertility Treatment

Winter 2011Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on creating infertile fathers

Embryos in Limbo

Spring 2009Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on IVF and indecision about nascent life

Blogging Infertility

Winter 2008

Cheryl Miller on the lively and fractious community of “infertiles”

Donated Generation

Summer 2008

Cheryl Miller on releasing the identities of egg and sperm donors

Parenthood at Any Price

Summer 2007Cheryl Miller reviews Liza Mundy’s Everything Conceivable

Babies for Sale

Summer 2006Cheryl Miller on buying and selling our offspring

The First Fourteen Days of Human Life

Summer 2006Patrick Lee and Robert P. George on the biology of the early embryo

Acorns and Embryos

Fall 2004 - Winter 2005Robert P. George and Patrick Lee on moral standing and bad metaphors

Next 

 

Blog Posts

ART in the News

A new test for Down syndrome, frozen embryo laws, and more

October 10, 2008

The Embryo Dilemma

October 6, 2008

Los Angeles Times health reporter Shari Roan has a terrific series on “the politics of embryos.” (Bonus: One piece quotes The New Atlantis’s own Yuval Levin.) 

Six years of frustration and heartbreak. That’s how Gina Rathan recalls her attempts to become pregnant.

Finally, she and her husband, Cheddi, conceived a daughter, now 3, through in vitro fertilization. About a year later, she became pregnant with a second child, naturally. Their family was complete.

Then, a year ago, the Fountain Valley couple received a bill reminding them that their infertility journey wasn’t quite over. They owed $750 to preserve three frozen embryos they’d created but hadn’t used....

Finally, the couple paid for three more years of cryopreservation.

“I think about the embryos every day,” Rathan says. “I am their mother. I see them as my own children. They are the DNA from my husband and I. It’s something I worry about, especially when the three years is over and I have to make a decision again.” 

ALSO IN THE LAT: How easy is it to donate embryos to research? Or for adoption? Embryo legislation, state by state.

ART in the News

Cheap IVF, medical tourism, and more

October 3, 2008

Symposium: Getting It Right — Putting Ethics at the Core of Gamete Donation Practice

September 29, 2008

If you're in the Toronto area, I will be speaking about my latest New Atlantis article, "Donated Generation," at a symposium hosted by the Infertility Network. The event is this Saturday, October 4, 2008, at the Michener Institute. (Map and directions here.)

There will be some great speakers: Olivia Montuschi, co-founder of the Donor Conception Network; Kathleen LaBounty and Karen Clark, two donor-conceived adults; and Eric Schwartzman, a DI-dad.

A brief description of the seminar:

Symposium: Getting It Right – Putting Ethics At The Core Of Gamete Donation Practice
Saturday, October 4, 2008. 9:00am - 5:00pm. Open to all.
Michener Institute, 222 Saint Patrick St., Toronto (near University Ave. & Dundas St.) 

Explore the complex ethical issues of egg and sperm donation from the perspectives of adult offspring, recipients and donors, as well as the LGBT and adoption communities, with input from support group leaders, researchers, ethicists, counsellors and medical professionals. The discussion will focus on the importance of education and support, along with the need for accurate, complete, accessible records, protected against loss or destruction. It will also highlight shortcomings in the current system and the need for more accountability.

Discover the similarities and differences among systems in countries that enable a donor-conceived person to learn their donor’s identity and the challenges posed by the abolition of anonymity. Listen to personal stories from offspring who want to learn more about their genetic kin. Learn how similar past practices in adoption (e.g. secrecy and sealed records) are giving way to openness and information sharing.

Hear up-to-date research on the long term medical and emotional ramifications of egg donation; the expected changes in the United Kingdom following implementation of the new legislation (e.g. provisions for offspring to access information about their half-siblings and donors about their offspring).

To learn more about the conference and to register, see the Infertility Network's website.

“One way or another someone makes money off the dead.”

September 29, 2008

Your humble blogger has a review in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard about Donna Dickenson’s chilling exposé, Body Shopping: The Economy Fuelled by Flesh and Blood. In the piece, I discuss some of the more grisly practices of the global trade in human flesh and how we can rein in the worst of the body-snatchers:

Body Shopping describes a science that has become positively vampiric in its insatiable appetite for human tissue and organs, sometimes outright stealing the raw material it needs. A veritable black market in human flesh has been established, with each part individually appraised and priced: “Hand, $350-$850, Brain, $500-$600, Eviscerated torso, $1,100-$1,290.” A whole cadaver can fetch up to $20,000. The uses to which this tissue is put are no less gruesome. Bone dust from stolen cadavers might be found in your dental work. The collagen used to plump a starlet’s lips is likely derived from the cells of an infant’s foreskin. The “secret ingredient” in the various beauty treatments marketed to Russian women? Aborted fetuses from Ukraine.

“One way or another someone makes money off the dead,” one proud body snatcher declared, even as he pleaded guilty to over 60 counts of mutilation of human remains, and embezzlement. The entrepreneurial spirit cannot be tamed, it would seem, especially in so lucrative a venture as body shopping.

RELATED: I interviewed Professor Dickenson about her book for Conceptions here.

ART in the News

Clay Aiken: Gay Dad, Teen Pregnancy Barbie, and More

September 26, 2008

“Pay for semen? Really??”

September 25, 2008

Amy, a female blogger, is advertisting for a sperm donor via her blog. She claims to have 15 candidates. I’m guessing this must be a hoax since it is an incredibly bad idea otherwise (especially from someone who claims to be attending law school). Here’s her pitch:

In less than two weeks, I will be ovulating, which as everyone should know is primetime for baby making. The problem is that I don’t yet have a partner for this process. Now, I’m not looking for a source of child support or a baby-daddy in the sense that he should have any supportive role in the pregnancy or in raising the child, I just need some good, hearty seed....

Since I have successfully dated two people through this blog network I am turning to it again for assistance in this effort. The network has agreed to help financially with the baby but I am turning to the readers/commenters for my donator. The nail in the coffin was the latest example of using the Internet as an efficient means for a solution—whether it’s paying college tuition or finding the right donor.


 

“Sex is for recreation; leave reproduction to the professionals.”

September 24, 2008

In Intelligent Life magazine, Helen Joyce discusses “social egg-banking” and the IVF revolution to come

I believe the true IVF revolution is still to come. Soon, IVF may be better than natural conception for many, perhaps most, couples, not just those who can't make babies the usual way and the fewer still who know they carry genetic diseases.

The first steps to this reproductive nirvana are already being taken by a few brave, or foolhardy, souls. They are freezing (or, strictly speaking, “vitrifying”) their eggs in order to keep them fresh till the right man comes along. Men have been able to freeze and bank their sperm for decades, for example when facing cancer treatment that risks leaving them infertile, and couples can store surplus embryos produced during IVF. But eggs are a tougher challenge. Sperm are small, and of the tens of millions in a single ejaculation plenty will survive freezing and thawing; a couple of days after fertilisation, an embryo will consist of several cells, and even if a few don't survive the trauma, the embryo itself often will. Eggs, though, are single cells—so they have no built-in redundancy—and big (many times larger than the average human cell), so they are full of water that can form ice crystals and destroy the delicate structures inside them.

 

ART in the News

An Artist's Journey, Sperm Donor Roots, Aussie Clones, and More

September 23, 2008

Newsweek Tackles What Women Want

September 17, 2008

Newsweek’s latest issue asks what women want. No surprise, there are a few articles on ART developments.

The first looks at the challenges facing infertile women in developing countries

In some developing countries, the consequences of infertility—which can include ostracism, physical abuse and even suicide—are heartbreaking. “If you are infertile in some cultures, you are less than a dog,” says Willem Ombelet of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology in Belgium. Women are often uneducated, so their only identity comes from being moms. “It [infertility] is an issue of profound human suffering, particularly for women,” says Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs at Yale University. “It’s a human-rights issue.”

The second examines the rise of the “advanced maternal age” mom:

The reasons women become first-time moms or add to the brood later in life are as varied as the women themselves. There are career goals to meet. And bank accounts to grow. Some women waited for marriage. Some never married at all. There are second marriages. And even surprise births.

For those who wait, getting pregnant is a roll of the dice even with the help of science. “Not every egg over age 40 is created the same,” says Dr. Karen Ashby, assistant professor of reproductive biology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. “Some healthy women will get pregnant without a problem, other women simply won’t.”

 

Next