It’s Not Science Fiction: Ethics of Artificial Wombs

Newborn Preemie
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With the advent of 3-D printers and similar technology, modern science has come closer and closer to artificially solving medical issues and imitating parts of both the anatomy and physiology of the human body. However, when it comes to issues of reproduction and pregnancy, it’s an entirely different battle. Attempts to create an artificial womb for human gestation have proven to be be unsuccessful over the last two decades. However, researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were able to create an artificial womb in which premature lambs were able to grow.

A recent article from The New York Times considers the ethical and legal implications of this new technology if it is applied to humans. One of the most likely situations that could arise would be using the artificial wombs for premature infants. An artificial womb could eliminate or address many of the issues and risks that face premature infants in incubators such as undeveloped lungs and neurodevelopmental challenges, and could be a life-saving technology for many. However, artificial wombs would not allow for contact or interaction between parents and infants that can be facilitated with incubators, which is something that is extremely beneficial for both the parents and the infant emotionally and physically.

“When I started my Ph.D. looking into the ethics of artificial wombs in 2009, several people told me that it was purely science fiction, and not anything that will happen anytime soon,” stated Dr. Elizabeth YukoHealth & Sex Editor for SheKnows MediaShe continued, “While the recent trials were conducted on lambs, not humans, the rapid evolution of reproductive technology means ethicists have to stay a few steps ahead of clinical practice.”

Dr. Yuko’s research interests include sexual health and reproductive ethics, human enhancement and research ethics.  She adds that she is “thankful to have had the opportunity to address some of these early ethical issues in The New York Times.”  

Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D. is a bioethicist and writer, the Health & Sex Editor for SheKnows Media and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at Fordham University. Elizabeth is the former Program Administrator for the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute at Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education, as well as the founding editor of the Ethics and Society blog.

TEDxFordhamUniversity: Lesson in Bioethics Given by Golden Girls | Dr. Elizabeth Yuko

As one of the most groundbreaking sitcoms of all time, The Golden Girls introduced a range of bioethical issues on the show regarding medicine, the human body and women’s health.

In this TEDx Talk, Dr. Elizabeth Yuko, a Fordham University Center for Ethics Education  fellow and adjunct professor, discusses how influential Golden Girls was, and still is, as a lens for the study of bioethics and its principles using examples from the show’s most notable episodes.

Watch below:

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is also the Health Editor at SheKnows Media, a women’s lifestyle digital media company operating SheKnows.com. BlogHer.com. HelloFlo.com and STYLECASTER.com. Please visit her website and Twitter page for more information.

First Baby Born Via ‘3-Parent IVF’ Raises Ethical Questions

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On Tuesday it was reported that the first live birth resulting from mitochondrial donation was born in New York to a Jordanian couple. According to The New York Times, the fertility procedure – also referred to as “3-parent IVF” – was performed at a Mexican clinic and the baby is a healthy boy.

The purpose of a donor for this couple was to “overcome flaws in a parent’s mitochondria that can cause grave illnesses in babies.” Thus, the DNA from the egg of the healthy mother who has the mutation, is placed in the egg of a healthy donor after her nuclear DNA is removed. It is important to understand that the mitochondria of a cell are completely separate entities from DNA that determines inheritance.

The Jordanian couple took their chances with the procedure as they had lost two other children to the disease, one at age 6 and the other at 8 months. Dr. John Zhang performed the procedure at the New Hope Fertility Center’s clinic in Mexico as it is “effectively banned” in the United States, though it has been legal in the United Kingdom since last year.

The child is now 5 months old and healthy with normal mitochondria, as was first reported by New Scientist magazine.

Continue reading “First Baby Born Via ‘3-Parent IVF’ Raises Ethical Questions”

Transnational Reproduction: Race, Kinship and Commercial Surrogacy in India

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Wednesday, April 27, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m. | Walsh Library Special Collections room

Join us for a lunchtime lecture and discussion led by Daisy Deomampo, Ph.D. (assistant professor of anthropology, Fordham). Her research focuses on the intersection between technology, gender, health and social justice. She will discuss her long-term ethnographic fieldwork in India with surrogate mothers and Western intended parents, described in her forthcoming book “Transnational Reproduction: Race, Kinship and Commercial Surrogacy” (NYU Press, 2016). A brief response will be provided by Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D. (Center for Ethics Education).

LUNCH WILL BE SERVED

Please RSVP to ethics@fordham.edu or 718-817-0926

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 4, 2016

money feet
Via NYPL Digital Collections.

NIH vowed to move its research chimps from labs, but only 7 got safe haven in 2015
Nearly three years after the National Institutes of Health announced that hundreds of chimpanzees held for invasive medical experiments would be retired to a sanctuary, relatively few have been so lucky. Only seven made the trip in all of 2015.

The Brain Gets Its Day in Court
A new study found that the number of judicial opinions referencing neuroscience as evidence more than doubled between 2005 and 2012.

The Consequences of Poor Science Education in Kindergarten
A majority of low-income and minority kindergarteners come in with poor general science knowledge—and closing that gap may be crucial for ensuring academic success later on.

A Baby, a Baboon Heart, and the Transplant Heard Round the World: The Story of the First Neonatal Cardiac Xenotransplant in History
Stephanie Fae Beauclair, better known to history as Baby Fae, was born October 14, 1984 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Baby Fae needed a heart transplant to survive but a human heart was not available to her. What happened next challenged the boundaries of medical science and bioethics.

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 4, 2016”

‘Family is Family’: Why Intel’s New Adoption & Fertility Policies are a Step in the Right Direction

sperm and eggs
Via freedigitalphotos.net

By Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

This week Intel announced new job benefit policies that include tripling their adoption assistance program, and quadrupling their fertility coverage, noting, “family is family – no matter what it looks like.”

This comes after the company unveiled an expanded “family bonding leave” policy in January, which allows employees who are new parents to take up to eight weeks of paid leave, in addition to the existing pregnancy policy that provides new mothers with up to 13 weeks of paid time off. The “family bonding leave” can be taken any time within the first 12 months of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Continue reading “‘Family is Family’: Why Intel’s New Adoption & Fertility Policies are a Step in the Right Direction”

Should a UK woman be able to fertilize, implant and gestate her deceased daughter’s frozen eggs?

Via CNBC
Via CNBC

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

While many parents of children of childbearing age make no secret of their desire to become grandparents, one woman in the UK took her request to the High Court.

Britain’s High Court has denied the 59-year-old woman – whose daughter died in 2011 at the age of 28 – the right to use her deceased daughter’s frozen eggs after determining that it wasn’t clear that the daughter had wanted her eggs used for this purpose.

Continue reading “Should a UK woman be able to fertilize, implant and gestate her deceased daughter’s frozen eggs?”