Thursday, April 30, 2015
The New York Times op-ed: Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live, by Nick Loeb:
LAST August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.
When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent? . . .
The New York Times - Public Editor's Journal: Frozen Embryos Article Was Intended to Spark Debate: Mission Accomplished, by Margaret Sullivan:
An Op-Ed essay titled “Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live” started to draw fire almost immediately after its publication Wednesday night.
The vehemence of reader criticism prompted me to ask Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor who supervises the opinion-side sections of The Times, for response. . . .
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Washington Post: Elton John is boycotting Dolce and Gabbana for calling children conceived with IVF ‘synthetic’, by Soraya Nadia McDonald:
This year, Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana unveiled a celebration of motherhood at Milan Fashion Week, sending models down the catwalk who were visibly pregnant or carrying little chubby-cheeked bundles of joy. . . .
Recent statements Dolce and Gabbana made to Panorama, an Italian magazine, have cast their fall-winter 2016 collection, which they named “Viva la mamma,” in an entirely new light.
In the interview, translated by the Telegraph, the couple stated: “We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one. … No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.”
“You are born to a mother and a father — or at least that’s how it should be,” Dolce said. “I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.” . . .
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Newsweek: Twins: The Fetal Paradox, by Amy Klein:
In 2004, Danielle Decrette went in for in vitro fertilization. It wasn’t her first time—she and her husband had a 3-year-old daughter conceived through IVF—and she knew what she was getting into. Just as he had four years before, Decrette’s doctor stimulated her with hormones, extracted her eggs from her ovaries, fertilized them with sperm in the lab and placed the resulting embryo in her uterus. But this time the process failed. So the doctor decided to transfer two embryos in the next round to increase her odds of getting pregnant.
“You know you could have twins,” the doctor warned her before the procedure. . . .
That was 10 years ago. Today, fertility doctors would almost certainly have pushed her away from the idea of a two-embryo implant . . . .
Monday, October 6, 2014
The Huffington Post -- The Blog: Reproducing Race, by Dov Fox (University of San Diego Law):
More than a million children in the U.S. each year are conceived with donated sperm or eggs. Sperm banks and egg vendors offer online ordering and direct shipping of donor materials that prospective parents can shop for based on SAT scores, personality tests, and celebrity likeness.
"[W]hat we try to do is give [parents] as much choice as possible," explains Dr. Cappy Rothman, co-founder of the world's leading sperm bank, California Cryobank. "If our customers wanted high school dropouts," he adds, "we would give them high-school dropouts."
What many of these (mostly white) parents want is a child who will look like they do. This means picking a donor who is, like them, white. . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
CNN: Time-lapse video reveals secret life of an embryo, helps women conceive, by Kieron Monks & Samantha Bresnahan:
It is estimated that around one in four couples around the world have trouble conceiving. For a small proportion of them, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a technology that can restore the dream of parenthood.
IVF is the fertilization of an egg by sperm outside the body, where it is cultivated in a lab environment, and if an embryo results it is implanted into the mother's womb. Now the chances of IVF treatment being successful are being boosted by a machine called the Embryoscope. . . .
The commonly accepted practice of selecting only certain embryos for implantation in IVF illustrates that most do not believe embryos have the moral status of persons.
Friday, March 21, 2014
New technology would enable women who carry harmful mutations in their mitochondria to have a child without those harmful mutations. Despite concerns, that's a good thing.
Since January, a new California law allows for a child to have more than two legal parents. But children are still limited to two genetic parents. That could change soon, if the Food and Drug Administration approves human clinical trials for a technique known as mitochondrial replacement, which would enable a child to inherit DNA from three parents.
News of the pending application has caused a kind of panic not seen since Dolly the sheep was cloned, raising the possibility of a single genetic parent. But far from being the end of the human race as we know it, the technique might be a way to prevent hundreds of mitochondrial-linked diseases, which affect about one in 5,000 people. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
USA Today: FDA raises concerns about three-parent embryo procedure, by Karen Weintraub:
In two days of hearings ending Wednesday, a federal committee proved quite skeptical about research that might help some patients birth healthy children — but might also open the door to human gene manipulation.
The procedure being considered, called mitochondrial transfer, would mix the genes of two women in hopes of creating a healthy baby. . . .
WebMD: FDA Explores '3-Person' Embryo Fertilization, by Dennis Thompson:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearings opened Tuesday on a controversial fertilization technique that uses the DNA from three people -- two women and one man -- with the goal of preventing inherited genetic diseases. . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The New York Times: Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases, by Gina Kolata:
. . . Genetic testing of embryos has been around for more than a decade, but its use has soared in recent years as methods have improved and more disease-causing genes have been discovered. The in vitro fertilization and testing are expensive — typically about $20,000 — but they make it possible for couples to ensure that their children will not inherit a faulty gene and to avoid the difficult choice of whether to abort a pregnancy if testing of a fetus detects a genetic problem.
But the procedure also raises unsettling ethical questions that trouble advocates for the disabled and have left some doctors struggling with what they should tell their patients. . . .
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Concurring Opinions: Why is Reproductive Technology a Battleground in the Abortion Debate?, by Richard Storrow (CUNY Law School):
Caitlin Borgmann has made the convincing argument that incrementalism in the anti-abortion movement developed from the failure of the movement’s initial post-Roe strategy to win the hearts and minds of the undecided. The strategy of equating abortion with murder and vilifying women who have abortions was far too strident to be persuasive and too off-putting to have emotional appeal. The strategy was eventually abandoned in favor of chipping away at Roe by degrees. Incrementalism takes the long view toward outlawing abortion in any form, but its progress, ironically, is asymptotic, tending toward prohibition without ever achieving it. This is because incrementalism’s objective is to render access to abortion illusory. Even if Roe remains in place, rendering abortion inaccessible will mean that it is legal in theory but not in practice. Although alternatives to incrementalism have appeared in recent years as certain factions within the movement have grown restive, incrementalism remains the primary strategy of the anti-abortion movement today.
The incrementalist strategy now includes arguments for limiting assisted reproduction by raising concerns about its use at all four stages of the cycle of human reproduction: pre-conception, pre-implantation, post-implantation, and even post-birth. Although seemingly an odd direction for the anti-abortion movement to take, it should not come as a complete surprise; after all, the moral status of the embryo has played a major role in the development of the legal regimes that regulate assisted reproduction in other countries, particularly those with strong commitments to Roman Catholicism. . . .
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Judicial review has a blind spot. Doctrinal and scholarly focus on individual rights has crowded out alertness to the way in which legislatures and courts characterize the state interests on the other side of the constitutional ledger. This Article introduces and interrogates a pervasive phenomenon of judicial decisionmaking that I call interest creep. Interest creep is the uncritical expansion of underspecified interests like national security and child protection to capture multiple, distinct sources of government concern. By shielding such concerns from critical judicial appraisal, interest creep erodes the adjudicative duty to provide litigants, lawmakers, and lower courts with clear reasons for its decisions. Worse, interest creep generates incorrect legal outcomes when the discrete concerns that go by the name of a sweeping state interest cannot do the doctrinal work for which that shibboleth is enlisted. Only by disentangling the constellation of concerns that its reliance papers over will decisionmakers be able to assess the force with which those more particular concerns apply within diverse and dynamic contexts.
This Article examines interest creep through the illuminating lens of reproduction law in which it has thrived. Courts have resolved disputes including surrogacy contracts, genetic testing torts, and property claims for lost embryos by casual appeal to the state’s interest in “potential life” that Roe v. Wade designated as the canonical kind that can override rights. My analysis of every case and statute that has invoked this potential-life interest reveals its use to mean not one but four species of government concern. These distinct concerns for prenatal welfare, postnatal welfare, social values, and social effects operate under different conditions and with varying levels of strength. I apply this novel conceptual framework to live controversies involving fetal pain, sex selection, and stem cell research. These case studies demonstrate how ordinary interpretive methods equip courts to unravel the complexity of concerns that interests like “potential life” absorb over time amidst evolving facts and competing values. More broadly, this examination provides a model for how in other areas of law, from campaign finance to affirmative action, judges and lawmakers can repair the confused decisionmaking that interest creep promotes.
See also: The Huffington Post: The Forgotten Holding of Roe v. Wade, by Dov Fox:
Most people identify Roe v. Wade with a single landmark judgment. This is the case that extended the constitutional right of privacy to a woman's decision about whether to keep a pregnancy. Indeed, political, judicial, and scholarly debates about Roe have fixated on the source, content, and legitimacy of that individual right to abortion. . . .
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Call for Papers: Intersections in Reproduction: Perspectives on Abortion, Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and Judicial Review
Call for Papers: Intersections in Reproduction: Perspectives on Abortion, Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and Judicial Review:
Abortion and reproductive technologies have historically occupied separate realms in law, policy, and academia. In spite of some obvious and natural overlap, scholarship exploring the relationship between abortion and assisted reproduction is sparse. In 2014, Judith Daar (Whittier Law School) and Kimberly Mutcherson (Rutgers Law-Camden) will co-guest edit an issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics devoted to articles reflecting on this relationship. JLME is a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics.
The guest editors are open to a wide range of scholarship from authors steeped in various aspects of reproductive justice, reproductive rights and reproductive technologies who can explore the future of assisted reproduction and abortion as matters of scholarly concern and legal regulation, especially when viewed as part of a larger movement for reproductive rights and reproductive justice. The term reproductive technologies should be interpreted broadly in this context to go beyond IVF and include a range of techniques used in conjunction with assisted methods of conception.
Monday, August 12, 2013
The Los Angeles Times - op-ed: Assisted reproduction: When does a father become one?, by Naomi Cahn & June Carbone:
A bill in the California Senate would add to uncertainty about parenthood in cases of donated sperm.
When does a man become a father — the legally recognized parent of a child, responsible for support and eligible for custody? Historically, parenthood has involved something more than simply a biological connection. In some eras that meant the law recognized only fathers who married the mothers. Today, recognition extends to unmarried parents who raise a child together.
The new question on the table is whether it extends to a man who donates sperm to a woman and establishes a relationship with the child. . . .
Monday, July 15, 2013
The Los Angeles Times - op-ed: Leveling the field for human egg donors, by Naomi Cahn & June Carbone:
A bill before Gov. Jerry Brown would make it legal for research programs to pay for human eggs, as they do for sperm. But the issue is complicated.
In the United States, there is a competitive market in human eggs provided for reproductive purposes. An "extraordinary" egg donor can earn as much as $50,000 when she offers her eggs to an infertile couple. In California, however, that same "extraordinary" individual would receive nothing, aside from payment for her direct expenses, if she provided those same eggs for research purposes. That could change soon. . . .
Friday, June 7, 2013
I. Glenn Cohen and Travis G. Coan (both of Harvard Law School) have posted Can You Buy Sperm Donor Identification? An Experiment. Here is the abstract:
In the United States, most sperm donations are anonymous. By contrast, many developed nations require sperm donors to be identified, typically requiring new sperm (and egg) donors to put identifying information into a registry that is made available to a donor-conceived child once they reach the age of 18. Recently, advocates have pressed U.S. states to adopt these registries as well, and state legislatures have indicated openness to the idea. This study re-lies on a self-selected convenience sample to experimentally examine the economic implications of adopting a mandatory sperm donor identification regime in the U.S. Our results support the hypothesis that subjects in the treatment (non-anonymity) condition need to be paid significantly more, on average, to donate their sperm. When restricting our attention to only those subjects that would ever actually consider donating sperm, we find that individuals in the control condition are willing-to-accept an average of $$43 to donate, while individuals in the treatment group are willing-to-accept an aver-age of $74. These estimates suggest that it would cost roughly $31 per sperm donation, at least in our sample, to require donors to be identified. This price differential roughly corresponds to that of a major U.S. sperm bank that operates both an anonymous and identify release programs in terms of what they pay donors.
Monday, May 13, 2013
The current attention to the “end of men” is occurring as men’s role as biological fathers is becoming radically deemphasized through assisted reproductive technologies and alternative family formation. As other historians have noted, since the nineteenth century, there have been serial crises of masculinity in the United States, in which the perceived loss of power by white middle-class heterosexual men has been decried. This essay, written for an on-line forum considering Hanna Rosin's The End of Men, analyzes the current crisis in the context of earlier explorations of the biological end of men, from early twentieth century feminist utopian fiction to lesbian dreams of virgin birth in the 1970s.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Steven H. Resnicoff (DePaul University College of Law) has posted Family Planning and Government Regulation - Jewish Law Perspectives on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Jewish law highly
prizes human life. It strongly promotes human reproduction and the protection
of human health. For these reasons, Jewish law generally opposes abortion.
Governmental measures that would require Jews or Jewish organizations to assist
or enable conduct that violates Jewish law, such as religiously impermissible
abortions, would impinge on their religious freedom. In addition Jewish law
usually encourages humankind’s creative use of intellect and technology to
accomplish desired objectives, such as curing and preventing physical
infirmities and even more so with respect to saving human life.
Jewish law authorities have manifested a much more ambivalent attitude regarding the use of modern reproductive technologies. There is a consensus that Jewish law does not require extraordinary measures be used to create human life. However, authorities are acutely sensitive to the fact that many people unable to reproduce in the traditional manner yearn to have children. Moreover, some Jewish law authorities believe that by using certain modern reproductive technologies, a person may fulfill a religious duty to procreate. Nevertheless, other authorities argue that some such technologies actually violate Jewish law. Furthermore, even if the use of particular technologies is permitted, their use, or their possible misuse, could cause considerable societal harm.
This paper, which emerged from a conference held by the DePaul University Health Law Institute, examines these complicated issues in a way that makes the relevant Jewish precepts readily accessible.
Monday, March 25, 2013
The New York Times: North Dakota to Put End to Abortions on the Ballot, by John Eligon:
North Dakota lawmakers passed a resolution on Friday to allow the public to decide whether the State Constitution should assert that life begins at conception, a move that would essentially ban all abortions in the state. . . .
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
NBC Connecticut: Surrogate Gives Birth Against Biological Family's Wishes, by Josh Chapin:
The couple offered her $10,000 to have an abortion, but she refused.
When a Vernon woman was hired to be a surrogate in 2011, she never expected that the decision would lead to a more agonizing decision about the fate of a little girl, a battle in the courts and a move out of state so she had the power to make choices about the child's welfare. . . .
NBCNEWS.com - Vitals: $10,000 to abort? Surrogacy case reveals moral holes bioethicist says, by Arthur Caplan:
Crystal Kelley got paid $22,000 to have a baby. But that wasn’t the only offer the 29-year-old Connecticut mother of two received. After an utrasound at 21-weeks revealed significant medical issues, the parents offered her $10,000 more if she agreed to an abortion.
The gross immorality of that second offer tells us that there is a lot wrong with the first arrangement. It is intolerable that our society continues to put up with an unregulated, free market in hiring cash-starved women to make babies. . . .
Washington Post - She The People blog: Surrogate mother refused abortion: Right? Wrong? Damned to hell?, by Aly Neel:
A surrogate mother and the couple that hired her make a painful discovery after an ultrasound: Their unborn child will have serious health problems and will possibly never have a “normal” life.
The biological parents, who say they cannot bring a child into the world to endure so much suffering, offer the surrogate, who is struggling to make ends meet, $10,000 to abort the baby. . . .
Monday, March 4, 2013
WNYC - The Brian Lehrer Show: Ask a Bioethicist: Reproductive Technology:
We begin a series about medical ethics with Duke University bioethicist Nita Farahany, who sits on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Each week, she'll discuss some of the thorniest bioethical conundrums of our day.
Today's topic: Reproductive technology. We want your suggestions of bioethical questions we should discuss. Should parents be able to choose the sex of their baby? Should there be age limitations on people who undergo in vitro fertilization? That kind of thing. Ask your question below and we'll tackle as many as we can.
The show airs on Tuesday, March 5. Submit your question here.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Martin Hevia and Carlos Vacaflor on In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights
Martin Hevia (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella – School of Law) and Carlos Herrara Vacaflor have posted The Legal Status of In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In Latin America, Costa Rica is the only country in the region that absolutely bans access to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In 2000, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica, invoking article 4.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the fundamental legal document of the Inter-American system of human rights recognized the embryos’ right to life. The Constitutional Chamber held that given the great possibility that the embryos would be discarded, IVF should be completely prohibited insofar as it violates the right to life.
Recently, in the 2010 report “Gretel Artavia Murillo and others v. Costa Rica,”
the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that completely
prohibiting access to IVF in Costa Rica is incompatible with the ACHR. The
commission ruled that the Costa Rica Constitutional Chamber’s decision to
establish a total ban on access to IVF constitutes an arbitrary interference
and is a restriction incompatible with the exercise of the rights of private
and family life and the right to form a family — enshrined in articles 11 and
17 of the ACHR. It also held that impeding access to IVF is discriminatory
since it constitutes a burden for a specific societal group: infertile women.
Because Costa Rica had not complied with the IACHR recommendation to lift the
ban on access to IVF, the Commission brought the case before the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights, which is now ready to listen to the parties and resolve
A propos the Commission’s report and as a prelude to the debate that will take place before the IACtHR, this paper analyzes the legal regimen on the process of IVF. In order to do so, it will critically evaluate the core of the IACHR report, and from this, determine the extent of the right to privacy and the right to life in these Latin American countries. This task is indispensable to observing whether the current legal status of IVF, in Costa Rica and other countries in the region, is consistent with the ACHR.