Reproductivity Tech: Good or Evil?
February 7, 2007 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Reproductive Technologies: Pros and cons

I'm currently putting together a presentation on the arguments for and against reproductive technologies like IV-F and stem-cell research for my Catholic Morality course in high school.

My issue here is that the articles provided by my teacher as a starting point are all highly against the issue, while the presentation is supposed to be free of opinion.

Can anyone point me in the direction of websites that discuss issues like this from both viewpoints? Also appreciated would be websites with general explanations for different technologies and what they entail.

Thanks for all the help!
posted by InsanePenguin to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Planned Parenthood
Population Connection
Marie Stopes International

These are all good places to start. But, you should also check out the good ol' U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
posted by parmanparman at 4:20 PM on February 7, 2007

Google books has at least one book on IVF and ethics in their full view. (I've had good results with them before.) You can try other search terms with it for other issues; I just tried IVF because I think the arguments about it are a bit older and thus you're in better shape finding stuff about it.

Infertility, medical and social choices - ch 11.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:37 PM on February 7, 2007

This sounds like a very interesting (and ambitious) project. This topic is chalk full of different opinions.

For starters, this link to ACOG gives some background about infertility and is a good start.

Anyway, I don't know where to find the basics of the technologies, but this is a breakdown:

1. Medical. There are a number of different medications that can be used to induce ovulation in patients who are having trouble concieving. These can be very successful. FYI the most recent medication out there is not a hormone, it's a diabetes medication (metformin) - there are links between infertiltity and subtle problems with sugar metabolism.

2. IUI . This is 'intra-uterine insemination' also known as the turkey baster method. Essentially sperm is introduced into the uterine cavity. This bypasses the cervix which is full of mucus and acts as a natural barrier to sperm. In a way, sperm are given a ride past the most treacherous part of their journey. As you would expect this is most suited to patients who have sperm with low numbers or low motility.

3. IVF. This of course is 'in-vitro fertilization' or test tube babies. Here eggs (oocytes) are removed from the woman and then combined with sperm. Fertilized eggs are then introduced into the uterus. This is good for any number of fertility problems. These women recieve fertility meds in order to prodcue more than one egg per cycle ... normally women produce only one egg, or sometimes 2 if they are destined to have twins. If I recall, the medications induce about six or seven eggs, which are then collected for IVF. Also this technology allows for donor eggs and/or donor sperm.

As an aside a very interesting ethical issue is how many new embryos should be put into the uterus. There is a very interesting (and recent) case in British Columbia where sextuplets were born. Some would argue that it is unethical for physicians to introduce more than 2 or 3 fertilized eggs (expecting one or two won't take). In this case, a whole bunch were inserted and six took. The problem isn't in having six children, the problem is in having six children all at once. They were born very, very premature, and a few of them died. Furthermore, the surviving ones needed blood transfusions and because of religious limitations of the family, they refused this. Critics would say that if only 2 or 3 embryos were inserted in the first place, this whole problem could have been avoided. Or ... if it seemed that 6 were surviving then some could be selectively aborted in order to better the chances of the others surviving. (I'm sure conversation about that would make some waves in a catholic morality course.) (Another link on the issue)

4. ICSI. This stands for 'Intra-cytoplasmic-sperm-injection'. . Here instead of just mixing sperm and egg together, the sperm is actually injected directly into the egg. This of course is the most complicated form of IVF.

Finally, with respect to Stem Cells. This has not reached the realm of human reproduction yet - at least in clinics. I am pretty much totally ignorant in this regard, but I'm sure some other people can tell you more.

Good Luck
posted by commissioner12 at 4:38 PM on February 7, 2007

Here's a recent story on the subject which might be a good discussion topic: a Catholic college has approved the building of a $350,000,000 medical research facility on its land, on condition that no Stem-cell research or other "procedures involving the termination of human life or the artificial creation of human life" be carried out in the building.

A lot of people think the university shouldn't have agreed to it. They now have to assess all research against those somewhat ambiguous terms, in perpetuity.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:31 PM on February 7, 2007

This topic is chalk full of different opinions. Shouldn't that be chock-ful?
posted by Lynsey at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2007

The Center for Reproductive Rights is my suggestion. Many extropians and transhumanists support IVF and other reproductive technologies, so you might want to have a look at what they have to say.
posted by Human Flesh at 10:37 PM on February 8, 2007

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