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Spring 2012 • Robert Zubrin reveals the international campaign of coerced sterilization and abortion
Fall 2011 • Nicholas Eberstadt on the mounting casualties of sex-selective abortion
Summer 2009 • Caitrin Nicol on Jodi Picoult’s tales at the threshold
Spring 2009 • Ari Ne’eman
Summer 2007 • Richard W. Sams II
Summer 2005 • Eric Cohen on the false fears and genuine dilemmas of modern genetics
Summer 2003 • Christine Rosen on Orthodox matchmakers, IVF clinics, and genetic testing
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.
September 15, 2008 •
- Is Sarah Palin a “moral snob?” Gene Expression looks at Down syndrome and abortion rates. The New York Times reports on the birth of Trig Palin. More from the Washington Post.
- David Frum: Are designer babies the solution to the inequality problem?
- The 66 Club: Some women belong to book clubs. These women all share the same sperm donor.
- Should parents tell a donor child about his origins?
- Matthew Miller’s Maybe Baby is now out. An interview with the author.
- Are natural fertility methods better than IVF?
- “Babies are cute. Who could blame you for wanting one? And nothing can stop you. Not even time.”
- The newest Hollywood accesory: the gaybie.
- Dead men reproducing and afterdeath children.
September 9, 2008 •
Single men are hearing their biological clock ticking. And they’re not waiting for Mrs. (or Mr.) Right:
Daniel E. Gurr, a doctor in Miami, had always wanted a baby. The yearning lasted through his 30s and early 40s, through medical school and into his residency. That longing created tension; he and his longtime boyfriend, he said, fought each time the subject came up.
At 46, Dr. Gurr, who is settled in his job but now unattached, is finally fulfilling his wish. Next month, through a surrogate, he will become the single parent of a baby boy.
“I’ve always felt that I wanted fatherhood to be a part of my life,” he said. “It’s just a core part of who I’ve always been. I absolutely would want a partner, but I couldn’t let my life wait for that random event.”
In other news, parents of disabled children look to Sarah Palin as an advocate:
Many in the disability community said they hoped Trig Palin’s appearance at the convention would lead to greater public acceptance of his condition. “Why shouldn’t she have him there? There’s nothing to hide,” said Connie Hutzel of Mason, Ohio, whose son Carson, 11 years old, has Down syndrome.
September 2, 2008 •
- Secondary infertility: the “loneliest kind” of infertility.
- Two takes on genetic screening: “I regretted taking the test.” “For me, if I wanted another child, there was no other choice.”
- Would you go to extremes to choose the sex of your baby? Babble wants to know.
- Dara Torres: Infertility hero.
- No more Viking donors? FDA mad cow rules go into effect at sperm banks.
- Are Indian surrogates being exploited?
- Pete Shanks wants more regulation of ART in the U.S.
- Australia’s lucrative IVF industry.
- News of the weird: Brit grows marijauana to pay for IVF.
- Blinded by science: EPPC’s Yuval Levin eviscerates Diana DeGette’s Sex, Science, and Stem Cells.
- Donor-conceived children are looking for their “Y-guy.” Should they have the right to know their biological father’s identity?
July 22, 2008 •
[I]t's safe to say that there will be no perfect baby. Instead, the prospective parents will face a tough choice between embryo A, who will likely be tall, slim, smart and cancer-free but have a higher-than-average chance of bipolar, early-onset dementia, and infertility; embryo B, who will be a little shorter, dark-haired, probably fairly gregarious, resistant to coronary artery disease, susceptible to bowel cancer, hypertension and early deafness; embryo C, who will be of average intelligence, unlikely to suffer premature baldness, prone to mild obesity and diabetes, but not at a high risk of any of the other major common diseases; and embryos D-N, who present a similar panel of competing probabilities.
...The parents-to-be will sit down together with dossiers listing a huge set of statistical predictions for each of their potential children, and make a decision as to which (if any) of these abstract collections of traits and risks they wish to bring into this world. Decisions don't get much more emotionally traumatic than this: not only will they be making a decision that will shape their own lives and that of their future offspring, parents will carry a new, extra burden of responsibility for the fate of their children. If they decide on embryo A, and their child goes on to develop severe bipolar disease, they will carry the guilt of that decision in addition to the trauma of the disease itself.
That's not to say that embryo selection is unworkable — in fact, I think it's inevitable — but rather that this process is likely to require a degree of agonising trade-offs on the part of parents-to-be that is seldom fully appreciated. While I have no moral problem with the notion of embryo selection, part of me is glad that my child-bearing years are likely to be over before I have the chance to face this particular dilemma...
July 7, 2008 •
What happens, if after pre-genetic screening, no unaffected embryos are found? Should they be transferred? And if so, who gets to decide?
That's the subject of a talk by Dr. Wybo Dondorp, a senior research fellow at the Department of Health, Ethics and Society at Maastricht University (The Netherlands), at the 24th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona. If you read this Reuters article, you might think that the patients get to decide about the disposition of their affected embryos. You'd also be wrong.
According to Dr. Dondorp, decision-making about affected embryos must be "shared" between parents and doctor--except, that is, when the doctor disagrees with the parents. Then, the doctor gets to decide that it's not in the interest of the future child to be born:
"The present consensus is that where the classical indications for PGD are concerned, doctors should, as a general rule, not transfer affected embryos where no non-affected ones are available.
[...] The welfare of the child is closely connected to the classical indication for PGD: a serious disease caused by a single gene mutation for which there are no, or limited, treatments, and, in most cases, presenting early in life. An example is an embryo that is homozygous for cystic fibrosis, where the child will definitely have the disease. In such cases it is inconceivable that doctors would agree to transfer these embryos as it would be at odds with their professional responsibilities.
[...] It must be made clear that there may be, with conditions, room for shared decision-making about transferring affected embryos. But that does not amount to leaving it to the parents, as doctors cannot avoid their professional responsibility for the welfare of the future child."
Just to be clear, people with cystic fibrosis can live into "their 30s, 40s, and beyond." But no, their lives aren't worth living! For now, Dr. Dondorp hasn't yet ruled on the fates of people with genes for hereditary cancers or other chronic conditions. Those will be decided by a "case-sensitive evaluation of aspects relevant to the 'high risk of serious harm' criterion." Again, not by you, the potential parent!
So what if your doctor decides you shouldn't transfer your embryos? Dr. Dondorp has some helpful advice:
In pre-test counselling it should be explained that if no non-affected embryos are available, the only options are trying a new cycle or being advised to reconsider one's reproductive plans such as refraining from reproduction, using donor eggs or sperm, or adoption.
But don't worry, the doctors won't immediately dismiss your views about the fate of your embryos. They'll pretend to listen first, and then do whatever they've already decided on.
"Parental requests for transferring affected embryos should not be dismissed beforehand as a sign of irresponsible capriciousness. As the couple's primary wish may be for a child, they may reason that if a non-affected, healthy child is not what they can get, they will also be happy with, and good parents for, a child with a condition they at first intended to avoid. Respect for autonomy at least requires taking such requests seriously, even if, in view of all other considerations, doctors decide not agree to the requests."
June 18, 2008 •
A terrific article by Will Saletan on the coming "chemical wars" over sexual orientation:
Last year, Rev. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote: "If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use." Mohler told the Associated Press that morally, this would be no different from curing fetal blindness or any other "medical problem." Rev. Joseph Fessio, editor of the press that publishes the Pope's work, agreed: "Same-sex activity is considered disordered. If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb ... that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science."
If the idea of chemically suppressing homosexuality in the womb horrifies you, I have bad news: You won't be in the room when it happens. Parents control medical decisions, and surveys indicate that the vast majority of them would be upset to learn that their child was gay. Already, millions are screening embryos and fetuses to eliminate those of the "wrong" sex. Do you think they won't screen for the "wrong" sexual orientation, too?
Ross Douthat's prescient post on the future of homosexuality is well-worth reading too.
June 16, 2008 •
- Will same-sex marriage lead to a "brave new world?" Doug Kmiec says yes.
- Million-dollar babies: When is early intervention too early?
- Don't cry for my fertility.
- Cancer patients opt to preserve sperm and eggs.
- The British Fertility Society questions the efficacy of embryo screening.
- California halts genetic testing by 13 businesses.
- Egg shortage: Stem cell researchers want eggs and they want them now.
- Fertility tourism: Gay Israeli couples find surrogates in the U.S. and India.
- Carolin's babies: Patients throw a party for a fertility specialist who 'really seemed to care.'
- Catholic bishops condemn embryonic stem cell research, but might reconsider embryo adoption.
May 8, 2008 •
- "The incredible hunch that told me I'd met my sperm donor father."
- A Phony War on Science: Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson discusses Yuval Levin's New Atlantis essay, "Science and the Left."
- "Who decides what's ethical and what isn't?": The ethics of reproductive technoglogy debated.
- Defending dignity: Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, the chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, speaks at Stanford.
- Different takes on older mothers: From NPR: For prospective moms, biology and culture clash. From the WSJ: "Women my age just don't get pregnant." Well, they do. From the Detroit Free Press: "I love that I'm an older mom. I wasn't ready before...I am now."
- Hey, where's my artificial womb?
- Sperm shopping from a catalogue.
- In Canada, the rise of twins.
- More on the gayby boom: Surrogate mothers are fulfilling gay men's dreams of parenthood.
- Baby Mama portrays surrogacy as "ridiculous and innocuous."
- Top 10 tips for coping with infertility.
- The business of baby-making.
- A common weedkiller might be linked to unexplained infertility.