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Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Fertility Industry through a Microscope,” a look at how new means of human reproduction have given birth to big questions, with Sonia Suter, professor of law, scholar of emerging reproductive technologies, and founding director of the Health Law Initiative at the George Washington University Law School.
Scientists have come up with a host of new ways for people to reproduce or learn about the futures of their children from prenatal tests. Technology even makes it possible to edit the genomes of future children. The implications of such developments, however, often have not been thought through by those who seek to carry out or benefit from such new technologies or, for that matter, by lawmakers. Moreover, the fertility industry remains largely unregulated, leaving those who have turned to it for help vulnerable to deception that can lead to regret, confusion, or a sense of betrayal. And both the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the legal and political debates over abortion pills have generated uncertainty over continued access to reproductive technologies.
Learn about the current and future reproductive landscape and the promise and pitfalls associated with it from Sonia Suter, a former genetic counselor and current law professor specializing in bioethics, genetics, and reproduction.
She’ll walk us through issues raised by reproductive technologies such as sperm, egg, or embryo donation, uterine implants, in vitro fertilization, and surrogate parenting. She’ll also look at the use of genetic testing on embryos and fetuses, on efforts to expand the scope of prenatal tests to identify complex diseases or non-medical traits in future children, the possibility of gene editing in reproduction, and on research on animals that someday could pave the way for procreation by same-sex couples or more than two parents.
Turning to concerns related to the fertility industry, she’ll discuss the cases of doctors who clandestinely used their sperm to inseminate patients and of donors who either misrepresented their health or fathered hundreds of children. She’ll also tackle questions related to equity, informed consent, inconsistent state laws, the quest for human perfection, and concerns within the disability community. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: A human embryo from in vitro fertilization. (F. K. Hardy / Creative Commons.)