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Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Summer 2012 • Gilbert Meilaender on the curious case for extinction in Why Have Children?
Spring 2012 • Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on why people sell their eggs and sperm
Winter 2011 • Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on creating infertile fathers
Spring 2009 • Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill on IVF and indecision about nascent life
Winter 2008 •
Cheryl Miller on the lively and fractious community of “infertiles”
Summer 2008 •
Cheryl Miller on releasing the identities of egg and sperm donors
Summer 2007 • Cheryl Miller reviews Liza Mundy’s Everything Conceivable
Summer 2006 • Cheryl Miller on buying and selling our offspring
Summer 2006 • Patrick Lee and Robert P. George on the biology of the early embryo
Fall 2004 - Winter 2005 • Robert P. George and Patrick Lee on moral standing and bad metaphorsNext
October 10, 2008 •
- Is it wrong to want a deaf baby?
- Oregon court sees frozen embryos as property rights issue.
- The hidden health risks for the children of sperm donors.
- India: It’s time we had a law on surrogacy.
- How test tube babies changed the world.
- A new, safer test for Down syndrome.
- “Human evolution is only at the beginning!”
- Incest fears down under?
- Families in the making.
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.)
ALSO IN THE LAT: How easy is it to donate embryos to research? Or for adoption? Embryo legislation, state by state.
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.”
October 3, 2008 •
- “Women: Have your babies yesterday.”
- Looking for cheap IVF? 13 questions and answers about medical tourism. And just how expensive is IVF anyway?
- Biologists describe how an embryo attaches to the womb.
- The Bronx is the place to be for gay families.
- Feminism or folly? Women who conceive accidentally on purpose.
- Mothers may not tell after donor egg, sperm birth.
- Having a half-sibling on the other side of Europe.
- Men without children.
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.
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.
September 26, 2008 •
- Pregnancy on the rise, abortion rates lowest in 30 years.
- How to stay sane with multiples.
- Designing the $100,000 baby.
- Remote control male birth control.
- Clay Aiken has a gayby.
- Israeli women are coming to the U.S. to donate eggs.
- "I've become more conservative since carrying a baby to term, but not so conservative as to assume that a ball of cells is a person."
- Teen pregnancy Barbie.
- India's global surrogacy business: "Come as Couple ... Leave as Family."
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.
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.
September 23, 2008 •
- Australia issues its first license to clone human embryos.
- On the Today show: Looking for sperm, egg donor roots.
- An artist’s journey to 21st-century motherhood.
- Are celebrities giving IVF patients false hopes?
- “I’m a dad by deception.”
- Two healthy babies miscarried for every three Down sydrome babies detected.
- From Gene Expression: Who would abort a defective fetus?
- “I wanted a child more than a man.”
- India pulls gender selection ads on Google and Microsoft.
- Dad with cystic fibrosis beats infertility.
- Can cellphones cause infertility?
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.”