Assisted Reproductive Technologies

ART in the News

Extreme Preemies, Ticking Clocks, and GINA

April 27, 2008

posted by Cheryl Miller | 12:56 pm
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, In Vitro Fertilization

Outsourcing Childbirth

April 25, 2008

Baby MamaIf you can stand to read any more about surrogates, I have a piece today in the Wall Street Journal about the movie Baby Mama and the morality of renting wombs:

Surrogacy itself seems to have come out of the mommy closet, to judge from recent media coverage. The New York Times and the Boston Globe have both reported on the practice of outsourcing wombs to poor Indian women. On a recent cover of Newsweek, the abdomen of a pregnant woman appeared with the words "Womb for Rent" emblazoned upon it. The issue's lead story, "The Curious Lives of Surrogates," ignited a small media frenzy with its sensationalistic revelations about military wives cashing in as surrogates -- in part by bilking their government-provided health plans.

The attention has rekindled the debate over the morality of renting wombs. While most people are reluctant to stand in the way of women who want to use modern medicine to help them conceive, others are more wary. Jennifer Lahl, the director of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture says "The surrogate isn't seen or treated as the patient. She's the cow, the womb."

posted by Cheryl Miller | 10:11 am
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Surrogacy, ART in popular culture

ART in the News

"Choice Moms," Hoaxes, and Still More on Surrogates
April 24, 2008

Note to self: Never doubt Yuval Levin (a TNA senior editor). Medical experts are weighing in on the Aliza Shvarts controversy, and are saying it's a hoax:

“The most likely scenario,” said Dr. Edward Funai, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of obstetrics at Yale-New Haven Hospital, “is that all Shvarts was seeing every month was her own menstrual blood. Half of the Yale community sees art of similar quality when taking care of their monthly hygiene.”

Not having children is not an option for single moms by choice:

After using an anonymous sperm donor, Akin gave birth to son Matthew when she was 38 and daughter Claire when she was 40. To her surprise, everyone – from her family in Michigan to her friends to her patients – seemed to take her decision in stride.

Now, she sometimes likes to surprise strangers when they comment on her children, 7 and 5.

“I’ll be in a department store and some stranger will say something like, ‘Boy, your kids look just like you.’ And I’ll say, ‘Well good, because I don’t know what the father looks like,’ ” she says with a laugh.

The Harvard Courant reviews Baby Mama and finds that surrogacy is "fertile ground for fiction":

[T]hese aren't your made-for-TV, beleaguered surrogate mother stories. Fey's comedy aside, the new crop strips off the freakish veneer of yesteryear, examining with humor and sensitivity the realities, awkwardness, decisions and surrogate-parent bonding that goes into contracting out a woman's womb.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 12:13 pm
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies

"The Invisible Part of Me"

April 24, 2008

Human Future blogger Jennifer Lahl interviews Wendy Kramer, creator of the Donor Sibling Registry. I've just finished a piece on donor-conceived children, and I found this part especially moving:

Lahl: I've followed your story and founding of for some time now. When you founded the registry it was a direct response to your own son wanting to find his biological father and siblings - right? What have you been most surprised by in running donorsiblingregistry for some 8 years now?

Kramer: My son always knew that the chances of knowing his donor were slim, so when he found out that he did indeed have half brothers and sisters out there, he wanted to know them. His thinking was that even if he didn't ever get to know his donor, that he could experience that "invisible" part of himself in these half siblings. The site was created as a place to be found.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 11:15 am
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Third-Party Reproduction

Eggs for Sale

April 23, 2008

The Yale Daily News delves into the workings of the Yale Oocyte Donation and Surrogacy Program:

The women who donate their eggs are primarily motivated by a desire to help others to conceive a child, Dorothy Greenfeld, the Yale program’s social worker, said, though the sum is often what first piques their interest when they see an ad in a newspaper or the Yale Calendar.

“They think it’s better than giving blood but easier than giving a kidney,” Greenfeld said.

The Heartland Institute looks at the egg-selling trade, now a $3 billion business:

This new issue involves two major questions. First, what are the long-term effects on a woman who sells her eggs? Let's face it--donating sperm is, as a matter of physiology, a transient thing. Harvesting eggs is not.

Second, should a woman be able to sell her eggs in the same way other people sell their organs, such as kidneys, as a part of her body with which she's free to do as she chooses? Eggs are not kidneys--but neither are they sperm.

"We're not going to know all the effects of women selling their eggs for at least 10 years or more," noted Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. "We don't know the long-term consequences of the powerful drugs and surgery [necessary] to obtain the eggs. How many women are selling their chances of motherhood for a few thousand dollars?"

posted by Cheryl Miller | 7:21 pm
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Egg Donation

'The Talk'

April 22, 2008

Forget "Heather has two mommies." What if Heather's mommy is her dad? The Washington Post has an interesting story about how ART and other trends have made the old "birds-and-bees" talk that much more complicated:

Changes in reproductive technology, a new openness about formerly closeted subjects and the flaunting of overtly sexual imagery in news and entertainment outlets have shifted the parameters of the traditional preteen birds-and-bees talk. (Remember? Mothers talked to daughters; dads talked to sons. End of discussion.)

Today, experts urge parents to welcome questions on sexuality by the time their kids can ask why the sky is blue. Recent research has shown that regular discussions of sexuality may improve parent-child relationships and even delay the onset of sexual activity by children. For some parents, that latter effect is taking on new importance in light of a recent study showing that at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.

What a complex new world parents have to explain today. It's not just that some kids have two mommies, others two daddies or no daddy at all. Or that national debates on abortion and gay marriage, along with news stories on in vitro fertilization and sex changes, are generating a whole new set of questions.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 12:54 pm
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies

More Surrogates: Special "Baby Mama" Edition

April 22, 2008

Baby Mama opens this Friday in the United States. Here's the full trailer:

Anthony Lane has a review in the New Yorker:

Forget the title, the target audience, and the taglines: what fuels “Baby Mama” is not the eternal quest for motherhood, or the topical conflict between parenting and careers, but an old-fashioned scuffle over class. Nothing places us on the social scale as accurately as our child-rearing, and one shot of kids being called across a sunlit playground—“Time for your playdate with Wingspan and Banjo!”—summons a world of liberal cuteness. Clean-living and high-earning, Kate markets gloopy green soup and other organic treasures to the discerning. Angie: “That crap is for rich people who hate themselves.” Oof.

More here and here. Fertility doctors are also giving Baby Mama mixed reviews. [UPDATE: Stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler discuss the stress of being a parent, the odd names stars give their children, and why Hollywood is suddenly so obsessed with pregnancy.]

Meanwhile, single men are turning to surrogacy to become fathers, the London Telegraph reports: 

The bachelor pad is picking up its final modern accessory - a screaming baby.

Tracy LaGondino, the "pregnant man" who wasn't a man, suffers from gender identity syndrome, but I wonder what label the shrinks would pin on a man like Will Zangwill. Given that he's a Manhattan psychologist himself, what would Mr Zangwill call it?

He's part of a new trend in which single men are paying through the nose to have a baby via a surrogate mother.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 9:29 am
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Film, Surrogacy, ART in popular culture

Body Shopping

April 21, 2008

English writer and activist Donna Dickenson has a new book out, Body Shopping: The Economy Fuelled By Flesh and Blood. To judge from this op-ed in the London Times, it sounds promising:

This week, leading scientists and religious representatives will meet in London to hear each other out and try to overcome the black-and-white divide that has dominated debate. Not before time: the “God versus science” cliché has become a dangerous distraction.

As a (secular) bioethicist who also sits on ethics committees, I find it supremely unhelpful to be labelled either a luddite or a God-botherer when I pose ethical questions about scientific developments.

It’s not just the technology that’s changed since the 1980s; it’s also the economic environment in which science and medicine have to operate. We are living in an age when human organs, genes, eggs and other body parts are fast becoming commodities bought and sold on international markets: what I call “body shopping”. Our law lags behind: once tissue is taken from your body, it doesn’t legally belong to you. Instead, our common law views it as “no one’s thing”, or mere waste.

UPDATE: I interview Dickenson about her new book here.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 4:47 pm
File As: Bioethics and Medicine, Assisted Reproductive Technologies

ART in the News

Peter Lawler, pregnancy comedies, bioart, and more...

April 21, 2008

posted by Cheryl Miller | 9:15 am
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Two Articles of Note: Egg Banking and the "Gayby Boom"

April 18, 2008

Marie Claire writer Sarah Elizabeth Richards spent $13,000 of her savings to freeze her eggs:

Egg freezing may not lead to babies, but it has let me put panic on the shelf and be excited about my future again. It has helped me get closer to my boyfriend and have tear-free Sunday summits about the pros and cons of parenting. It has restored my confidence that I will continue to make good, not rushed, choices.

With any luck, when I’m ready to be a parent, my eggs will work like they should. Or I’ll find another way to be a mom. But the point is, I’ll be ready.

Details magazine says it's now all the rage to be a gay single dad:

The stereotypical image of the American gay man—single, fabulous, social, and up for endless anonymous sex—is giving way to a new norm, one that has couples and even unattached gay men settling down to raise children. Statistics are hard to come by, but academics, doctors, lawyers, and gay advocacy groups say that there appears to be a boom in homosexual men having babies. And as with many trends, the increase in gay fathers has afforded its own terminology: the gayby boom.

posted by Cheryl Miller | 7:03 pm
File As: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, GLBT Parents

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