We tracked many issues related to human genetics and social justice and drilled deep in a few areas. By focusing on specific issues, we created opportunities for allies to get involved and modeled a social justice (rather than an academic or scientific) approach to working on human genetics.
Sex selection— using medical techniques to have a child of a specific sex—is a complicated ethical issue and the gateway to serious concerns about genetic trait selection and “designer babies.” How we deal with sex selection and protect women’s reproductive decision-making will determine how we address the ethical implications associated with designing babies, disability and eugenics in the use of reproductive genetics.
Selling eggs for fertility or research purposes is currently a hotly contested issue: Is it safe? Is it ethical? Should women be paid for it? How much should they be paid? Does it commodify and exploit young women? And, is it a form of designing babies?
In all these debates, the voices of young women—the primary targets of recruitment ads—are conspicuously absent. We are working with two partners, Choice USA and Health Equity Institute for Research, Practice & Policy, to ensure that the concerns and perspectives of young women are central in any debates about egg donation.
The collection and storage of DNA evidence in the criminal justice context is expanding rapidly and with very little public debate. Exponentially increasing forensic DNA databases raise important concerns related to growing racial inequities, eroding civil liberties and diminishing returns at a time when our current criminal justice system is buckling under exploding costs.
Surrogacy is one of the most controversial and contested of reproductive genetics issues. It tends to evoke powerful concerns about “outsourcing” baby making, the exploitation and vulnerability of women for their wombs, and the privilege and wealth of intended parents. Public calls to regulation or ban surrogacy abound at the state, national and international level. Rather than starting the discussion about surrogacy at the point of regulation, this project is about creating a guidance document compiling best practices and recommendations for all the people involved in considering a surrogacy arrangement.