[16days_discussion] Request for Collaboration

KATHLEEN SLOAN kathleen.sloan at sbcglobal.net
Thu Jun 11 08:31:30 EDT 2009

As a contributor to the 16 Days listserve and member of the National Organization for Women's (NOW) Global Strategies & Issues Committee, I am passionately committed to women's rights and equality advocacy.  I also work for the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), a 26 year-old non-profit that advocates science and biotechnology in the public interest rather than for commercial exploitation, manipulation and profit.  I'm currently directing a project on race and genetics and have been given the green light to pursue projects related to women and biotechnology.  If you know anyone or any groups that might be interested in pursuing a collaborative project in this area, please let me know or pass the information on.  Here's some background:
Today, women are faced with a rapidly expanding array of reproductive technologies. Developed by private biotechnology companies and marketed to fertility clinics, these new options have been presented to women as an issue of “choice”—supposedly providing them greater control over the process and outcome of their pregnancies. 

The Council for Responsible Genetics unequivocally supports a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions. However, we oppose the utilization of human eggs and embryos for experimental manipulations and as items of commerce because of the potential for eugenic applications and health risks to women and their offspring.

The realm of assisted reproduction has become a multi-billion dollar industry, visible in the increasing availability of invitro fertilization, prenatal genetic diagnosis, and chemical and chromosomal testing of the fetus. So far, these experimental procedures have not been closely regulated. 

Part of this is because the reach of federal oversight extends exclusively to publicly- funded research, leaving private sector activity largely unregulated. Many are resistant to any regulations over the fertility industry due to the continuing political residue of the abortion debate. Women in the United States fought hard to have courts recognize a woman’s right to choose abortion, and are wary of opening the door to government regulation of anything to do with women’s eggs, embryos or fetuses. The word “choice” has powerful connotations and women’s groups themselves are not eager to restrict its power. The industry is aware of this and has capitalized on the situation by supposedly offering the new genetic technologies as “choices.”

The unique role of women in reproduction puts them on the front line of bio-technological experimentation, and as such, women have the potential to play a leading role in determining the direction and scope of these developments. CRG works in partnership with a number of women’s health groups to reshape the discussion about genetic technologies in reproduction and to equip women with the information necessary to lead the process. Our goal is to shift debates over genetic technologies away from abortion politics and into more effective and productive discussions about the integrity of reproduction and the control of women’s bodies. Through education, networking, outreach, and activism women can direct their own reproductive futures.
Kathy Sloan
Council for Responsible Genetics
5 Upland Road, Suite 3
Cambridge, MA  02140, USA
ksloan at gene-watch.org 
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