Monday, October 31, 2011

Mississippi Personhood Initiative Addressed on The Situation Room

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Proposed Mississippi ‘Personhood’ Amendment Has Broad Potential Impact

The New York Times: Push for 'Personhood' Amendments Represents New Tack in Abortion Fight, by Erik Eckholm:

Image1 A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.

With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate.

“I view it as transformative,” said Brad Prewitt, a lawyer and executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, which is named for the Mississippi proposition. “Personhood is bigger than just shutting abortion clinics; it’s an opportunity for people to say that we’re made in the image of God.”

Many doctors and women’s health advocates say the proposals would cause a dangerous intrusion of criminal law into medical care, jeopardizing women’s rights and even their lives. . . .

October 26, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Fetal Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Daily Beast Examines Potential Implications of Mississippi Personhood Amendment for IVF

The Daily Beast: Will Mississippi Ban IVF?, by Michelle Goldberg:

A ballot initiative to define embryos as persons in Mississippi’s state constitution could outlaw some in-vitro practices—and many women with fertility problems are panicking ahead of the November vote.

In September, Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution to define embryos as persons could go forward in November. Since then, Dr. Randall Hines, one of four physicians in the state who perform in vitro fertilization, has been fielding panicked calls from women with fertility problems. “We have patients calling us who are extremely anxious,” he says. “If they are contemplating IVF, they’re asking, ‘Do I need to go ahead and do it right now, before this becomes law?’” . . .


October 26, 2011 in Anti-Choice Movement, Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Fetal Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another Sperm Donor Learns of His Numerous Offspring

Sperm attack ABA Journal: Lawyer Learns He Has at Least 75 Children, by Debra Cassens Weiss:

Boston lawyer Ben Seisler picked up extra money while attending law school at George Mason University by donating to a Virginia sperm bank.

Seisler earned $150 per donation, the Boston Globe reports. He apparently visited the sperm bank often. . . .

h/t: Lianne Hansen

See also Former Fairfax Sperm Donor Learns of 70 Kids, and this earlier post on a different prolific sperm donor: Ethical Questions Raised Over Single Sperm Donor's Copious Offspring

September 28, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Law School, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Canadian Doctors Consider Denying Fertility Treatments to Obese Women

The Globe and Mail: Canadian MDs consider denying fertility treatments to obese women, by Carolyn Abraham:

Image1 Canadian doctors are considering a policy that would bar obese women from trying to have babies through fertility treatments – provoking debate over whether the fat have the same reproductive rights as the thin.

Some studies find obese women face higher risks of medical complications while trying to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The science is not certain and some believe a ban would be tantamount to discrimination, yet a growing number of fertility doctors worldwide already bar treatment based on a woman’s Body Mass Index. . . .

September 23, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, International, Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Rick Perry's Vasectomy

Rick_Perry RH Reality Check: Rick Perry’s Vasectomy: The Governor's Reliance on What He Denies to His Fellow Texans, by Carole Joffe:

Rick Perry has only two children?! As the biographical information flashed by on television during a recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls, it was strangely incongruous to see that the rising star of the religious right was so woefully behind his competitors.   Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman led the pack with seven kids each, followed by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman with five (and the 23 children she had fostered). To be sure, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain also had a paltry two, but they, unlike Perry, were not considered to be the new favorite of the social conservative wing of the Republican. Recent polls show Perry supplanting Bachman in that role, notwithstanding her impressive numbers. . . .

The reason that Rick Perry has “only” two children, one can say with confidence about this normally private matter, is because of the widely disseminated fact of his vasectomy. cited in the New York Times among other places.  (This procedure, to the delight of late night comedians, was apparently performed by his father-in-law).

Speaking as a reproductive health advocate, I have quite mixed feelings about Perry’s decision (presumably made with his wife) to have a vasectomy. . . .

September 15, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Fertility, Men and Reproduction, Politics, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ethical Questions Raised Over Single Sperm Donor's Copious Offspring

The New York Times: One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring, by Jacqueline Mroz:

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow. . . .

September 6, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Medical News, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Theresa Glennon on Patient Choices in Assisted Reproduction

Theresa Glennon (Temple University – Beasley School of Law) has posted Choosing One: Resolving the Epidemic of Multiples in Assisted Reproduction on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1 

Fertility treatments have helped many individuals and couples exchange the heartbreak of infertility for the joys of parenthood. However, patients are often directed towards practices that greatly increase health risks by increasing their chances for multiple gestations. This Article highlights features of the context surrounding “assisted reproduction” that steer potential parents toward choices that heighten health risks for them and their hoped-for children.

The decision-making context patients confront in assisted reproduction leads many towards treatment choices that markedly increase the probability of twins, triplets, and higher order births. As a result, 30-35% of the births related to assisted reproduction are multiples. The public health community views the dramatic rise in multiple births related to assisted reproduction as a preventable epidemic. They emphasize that much more needs to be done to prevent the multiple pregnancies related to assisted reproduction. This policy imperative, however, runs head long into the market-based and institutionally fractured approach to fertility treatment in the United States.

The significant risks associated with multiple gestation raise an obvious question: why, despite strong evidence that single embryo transfer is the best way to reduce multiple gestations, do most women in the United States still select treatment approaches - hormone therapy or implanting multiple embryos in IVF - that often lead to multiple gestations? These practices stand in sharp contrast to several European countries, where women use IVF and transfer only one embryo at a time, the treatment approach best designed to reduce the risk of multiples? An important part of the answer to this puzzle lies in the context in which potential parents in the United States make decisions about assisted reproduction.

This Article critically analyzes the dominant approach to understanding patient choice in assisted reproduction. Drawing upon well-established findings in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, it evaluates how patients are steered towards choices about assisted reproduction that disserve their long-range interests and well-being and reduce social welfare. This research demonstrates the myriad ways that organizational and legal rules and incentives substantially influence individual choice. In highlighting how patient choices are swayed by the context within which they seek medical assistance to conceive children, I provide a novel application of a school of thought that is gaining greater attention in the legal literature and in policy-making communities.

The Article also analyzes various legal and institutional strategies that other countries have used to address the risks created by multiple gestations related to assisted reproduction. This comparative perspective highlights shortcomings in the U.S. approaches to assisted reproduction and advances understanding of the strengths and limits of alternative policy options. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I provide suggestions for both public and private actors to reshape the assisted reproduction decision-making context to guide patients towards one healthy baby.

August 28, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reactions to NY Times Article on Selective Reduction of Twin Pregnancies

Slate: Half-Aborted, by William Saletan:

Embryos Why do “reductions” of twin pregnancies trouble pro-choicers?

What's worse than an abortion? Half an abortion.

It sounds like a bad joke. But it's real. According to Sunday's New York Times Magazine, demand is rising for "reduction" procedures in which a woman carrying twins keeps one and has the other aborted. Since twin pregnancies are generally safe, these abortions are largely elective.

Across the pro-choice blogosphere, including Slate, the article has provoked discomfort. RH Reality Check, a website dedicated to abortion rights, ran an item voicing qualms with one woman's reduction decision. Jezebel, another pro-choice site, acknowledged the "complicated ethics" of reduction. Frances Kissling, a longtime reproductive rights leader, wrote a Washington Post essay asking whether women should forgo fertility treatment rather than risk a twin pregnancy they'd end up half-aborting. . . .

RH Reality Check: The NYTimes Whips Up More Moral Agonizing About Women's Reproductive Rights-Enough!, by Sunsara Taylor:

Against the backdrop of a record breaking number of restrictions on abortion being proposed and passed at the state level, as high profile national politicians cut budget deals over the lives of women, as Christian fascist shock troops target courageous abortion doctors, the New York Times has decided to feature yet another article calling into question the morality of women who make their own decisions about their child-bearing.

In their August 14, 2011 Sunday Magazine piece entitled, “The Two Minus One Pregnancy,” the NYTimes agonizes about the ethics of reducing twin fetuses to a single fetus so that a woman can have one child instead of two.

The article attempts to portray its own agonizing over twin reduction as having nothing to do with abortion. For instance, in contemplating where the supposed moral difficulty in twin reduction lies, at one point Ruth Padawer writes, “Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted.”

However, the article is caught up in the same unscientific thinking that leads so many to believe abortion is – or should be – an agonizing decision, or a decision that should be denied to women outright. . . .

August 17, 2011 in Abortion, Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Fetal Rights, In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Selective Reduction of Twin Pregnancies Raises Ethical Questions

New York Times Magazine: The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, by Ruth Padawer:

As Jenny lay on the obstetrician’s examination table, she was grateful that the ultrasound tech had turned off the overhead screen. She didn’t want to see the two shadows floating inside her. Since making her decision, she had tried hard not to think about them, though she could often think of little else. She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion. As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt. . . .

The Washington Post: Be fruitful and subtract?, by Frances Kissling:

“Be fruitful and multiply,” the first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve, is a frequent subject of interpretation by Christians as our understanding of the world and the conditions that face humanity have changed over time.

Modern technology --safe, reliable birth control and safe and legal abortion--has made it possible to multiply judiciously and create new persons thoughtfully. Additionally, those who want to have children but are not ‘fruitful” are now able, through a range of modern and not so modern methods from surrogacy to ART (assisted reproductive technologies), to have children.

Single people, gay couples; almost all can now become parents. But new ethical dilemmas arise daily. Remember Octomom -Nadya Suleman who gave birth to a set of octuplets in January 2009 and conceived through in vitro fertilization from a donor? Suleman became one of the most reviled women in America with popular reaction condemning her as irresponsible. Not only did she have eight kids at once, but also she already had six and was experiencing financial hardship. Professional ethicists and policy makers called for limits on the number of embryos that could be implanted during ART to prevent future extreme multiple births. . . .

August 14, 2011 in Abortion, Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preserving Friendship in the Face of Infertility

Slate Magazine: Infertility Is Wrecking Our Friendship, by Lucinda Rosenfeld: 

I can't even mention my kids to my friend who is having trouble conceiving without her crying. What should I do?

Dear Friend or Foe,
My very close friend "Janette" is desperate to have a biological child with her husband. Because her husband has a genetic disorder, they're doing IVF and testing to ensure that any potential child doesn't get the same disorder, which would result in severe retardation. So far, Janette has gone through seven unsuccessful rounds of IVF. While she has the financial resources to try as many times as she's physically capable, lately she seems to have reached a breaking point. She insists she doesn't want to adopt but also insists that she can't bear the strain of continuing with IVF—yet she continues.

Janette has shared her fertility struggles with only a few close friends, including me. And we've tried to be there for her through the roller coaster. The problem is: I have young children, as do many of our mutual friends. Whenever the topic of conversation turns to anything regarding others' pregnancies, babies, etc., Janette becomes emotional to the point of tears. So we avoid mention of our kids at all costs. If we try to empathize, she says she doesn't want any "advice" because "no one understands." This leaves us listening to her agonize in silence. . . .

March 30, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Culture, Fertility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Canada Clinics Explore Donation as Solution to Growing Supply of Unused Frozen Embryos

Vancouver Sun: Embryo ethics: Finding a home for Canada’s frozen 'orphans', by Sharon Kirkey:

Tens of thousands of human embryos hang in cold storage in Canada’s fertility clinics, an unknown number of which are “orphans.”

Increasingly, however, clinics are preparing to match these embryos — which could survive for decades in suspended animation — with infertile couples who long for a child of their own. It’s a form of third-party procreation that experts predict will only become more common as the number of surplus embryos grows. . . .

But the practice is raising difficult ethical issues . . . .

March 15, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Surgery Helps Male Cancer Survivors Preserve Fertility

Newswise: Male Cancer Survivors Find Path to Fertility and Are Able to Have Families Following Pioneering Sperm Extraction Surgery:

An intricate procedure that finds and carefully removes individual sperm from testicular tissue has made fathers of men who were once considered sterile due to prior cancer treatment, say researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center who pioneered the technique. . . .

March 15, 2011 in Fertility, Medical News, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Montana Court Directs Woman To Undergo Forced Hysterectomy as Treatment for Cancer

The Volokh Conspiracy: May Court Order Hysterectomy as Treatment for Cancer, on the Grounds that the Woman's Refusal Is Based on a Religious Delusion?, by Eugene Volokh:

Montana “During a hearing conducted on March 1, 2011, the District Court determined that L.K. is not competent to make her own medical decisions and directed that she undergo a radical hysterectomy on March 3, 2011, against her desires. L.K. objects to the surgery on religious grounds, and expert testimony admitted at the hearing indicated that her religious objections are delusional.” So states an order of the Montana Supreme Court, in Office of State Public Defender on Behalf of L.K. v. Montana Fourth Judicial District Court; the Montana Supreme Court stayed the district court’s order, and ordered an expedited appeal. . . .

March 14, 2011 in Bioethics, Fertility, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mandatory Vasectomy To Go With Mandatory Sonogram?

The Dallas Morning News: Mandatory sonogram; how 'bout mandatory vasectomy?, by Christy Hoppe:

As the debate on sonograms for women seeking abortions hit the four and a half hour mark, Rep. Marisa Marquez, D-El Paso, offered an amendment that shook up the House and changed some alliances.

For all the hours before, Republicans stuck together and kept the votes along partisan lines. But Marquez offered something that had most of the women -- Republicans and Democrats -- clapping.

Her amendment said that if a pregnant woman has a sonogram before an abortion and decides to keep the baby, then she can take out a court order to mandate the baby's father undergo a vasectomy -- if he has caused two other pregnancies outside of marriage. . . .

March 4, 2011 in Abortion, Fertility, Men and Reproduction, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yehezkel Margalit on Frozen Embryos and the Establishment of Parentage

Yehezkel Margalit (Bar Ilan University and Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research) has posted To Be or Not to Be (a Parent)? – Not Precisely the Question; The Frozen Embryo Dispute on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Modern medicine offers us a variety of fertility treatments. One of the results is that in the United States alone there are a more than 400,000 frozen embryos and another 10,000 frozen embryos are frozen each year. Since the rate of divorce in the United States increases exponentially, one can easily imagine how many frozen embryos may become the subject of litigation. Indeed a lot of attention is devoted to this sort of dispute by the media, the law and by people considering the ethical aspects. This is because this kind of dispute forces us to reassess many complex matters starting with the appropriate balance between the legal right to become a parent and the legal right not to be forced to become a parent. In this research we will try to present for reassessment the legal dispute as dichotomy and binary as if we have to choose between two options, either full legal parentage or no legal parentage. We will prove that the establishment of legal parentage is primarily by agreement due to the intention, wish and agreement which led to the birth of a child. In our opinion, the extent of parental status to be given to the legal parent depends upon the extent of the responsibility, which he is willing to undertake. If he accepts all the parental duties, his status will be that of a full parenthood, but if he does not want to undertake all the parental duties, he will not receive any parental right, but simply the status of non-parenthood. This approach used in the case of adoption was also applied in legal practice in many states of the United States and in the world, whereby the donor of gamete, semen and ova, or even frozen embryo receives the status of non-parenthood. In this research we will endeavor to examine the value and efficiency of offering an additional legal option which may be a possible compromise in the case of the bitter quarrels with regard to frozen embryos - granting the non-parenthood status to the spouse who objects to the continued fertility treatments and to becoming a parent against his will.

February 19, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Parenthood, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

David Orentlicher on Multiple Embryo Transfers

David Orentlicher (University of Iowa College of Law; Indiana University School of Law) has posted Multiple Embryo Transfers: Time for Policy on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Orentlicher The birth of eight children to Nadya Suleman led to an outcry over the common practice in assisted reproduction of transferring multiple embryos to a woman during in vitro fertilization (IVF). The practice can increase the chances of a live birth, but greatly raises the likelihood of multiple births, with their substantial health risks to mother and children and substantial health care costs to society. Professional guidelines, as well as laws in other countries, place limits on the acceptable number of embryos transferred in IVF.

This paper considers the problems with multiple embryo transfers and the experience in other countries with statutory limits. After reviewing the reasons why women might prefer multiple embryo transfers, including the desire to maximize their likelihood of having a child and the desire to minimize their costs for IVF, this paper recommends legal restrictions on multiple embryo transfers in the United States, together with insurance coverage for the costs of IVF.

January 16, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reflecting on 50 Years of "The Pill"

New York Magazine: Waking up from the Pill, by Vanessa Grigoriadis:

Birth control pills On a cold night in mid-October, a couple hundred bejeweled women in gowns file into the Pierre with their dates for a very special 50th-birthday party. . . . In the middle of the room, on a tall pedestal, there’s an enormous cake, with lettering that spells out ONE SMALL PILL. ONE GIANT LEAP FOR WOMANKIND. ONE MONUMENTAL MOMENT IN HISTORY.

Yes, the birth-control pill, approved by the FDA in 1960, is the “birthday girl” at tonight’s gala, which is sponsored by Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical, the biggest maker of generic drugs in the world. Medications don’t usually have their own black-tie events—there aren’t galas for antibiotics, or chemotherapy, or blood thinners—but the Pill, after all, is so much more than just a pill. It’s magic, a trick of science that managed in one fell swoop to wipe away centuries of female oppression, overly exhausting baby-making, and just marrying the wrong guy way too early. . . .

The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). . . .

December 7, 2010 in Contraception, Culture, Fertility, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 29, 2010

High BPA Exposure Among Chinese Factory Workers Linked to Low Sperm Counts

The Huffington Post: High BPA Exposure Linked to Low Sperm Count, by Lindsey Tanner:

Sperm Chinese factory workers exposed to high levels of the plastics chemical BPA had low sperm counts, according to the first human study to tie it to poor semen quality.

The study is the latest to raise health questions about bisphenol-A and comes two weeks after Canada published a final order adding the chemical to its list of toxic substances.

Whether the relatively low sperm counts and other signs of poor semen quality translate to reduced fertility is not known. Study author Dr. De-Kun Li, a scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., noted that even men with extremely low sperm counts can father children.

October 29, 2010 in Fertility, Men and Reproduction, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nov. 2, 2010: London Conference on the Rise of Reproductive Technologies

University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies in association with The Guardian

"Making Babies in the 21st Century: the Rise of Reproductive Technologies"
18.45 - 20.15, Tuesday 2 November 2010

Baroness Onora O'Neill (Chair, Nuffield Foundation)
Professor Marcia Inhorn (William K Lanman Jr Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, Yale University)
Professor Susan Golombok (Director, Centre for Family Research, Cambridge)
Professor Carl Djerassi (Inventor of the modern day contraceptive pill, Emeritus Professor, Stanford University)

This event is part of a series of 3 public events on 'Gender and the Bio-medical Sciences' which will bring world class experts together to engage directly with the public on topics of gender and radical bio-medical advances of the 21st Century. What can the latest scientific advances tell us about gender; what will be possible in the future and why does it matter? (Please see the attached poster for details.)

Hall 2, King's Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG
Tickets are £9.50, and available online:

Organised by the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies in association with the Guardian and kindly supported by Cambridge University Press.

For details of all 3 events, please visit:

October 12, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Conferences and Symposia, Fertility, International, Lectures and Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)