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THE HANDS OFF MISSION

Statement and Recomendations:

Why have “pro-life” and “pro-choice” feminists come together?

The politics of abortion in a number of countries around the globe has made it difficult for feminists to discuss openly issues concerning women’s health in the formation of medical research agendas. This is particularly evident when it comes to research on human embryonic stem cells (hESC). “Pro-Choice” feminists fear that their concerns about the safety and social impact of this research will be misconstrued and then used to erode the commitment to a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. “Pro-life” feminists who have similar concerns are met with skepticism on the part of those who see all criticism of this research as a cover for a religious agenda to secure the moral sanctity of the embryo. As a consequence, the voices of pro-choice feminists too often have fallen mute from self-censorship and those of pro-life feminists have fallen on deaf ears. Our mission is to find and give expression to a voice of common concern: making the health and welfare of women central to the planning of any biotechnological research that seeks to use their bodies or tissues.

OUR CALL:

We seek a moratorium on egg extraction for research purposes until such time as global discourse and scientific research yields information sufficient to establish adequate informed consent. 

 

Information for this consent must include:

1) assessments regarding the short and long term medical risks of egg harvesting. To accomplish this, the FDA must investigate the 25 deaths and over 6,000 complaints of medical complications associated with the drug, Lupron. Additionally, studies must address the long and short term risks of Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. Long-term studies must also examine possible connections between egg extraction procedures and uterine, ovarian and other reproductive cancers, infertility, adverse birth outcomes and other iatrogenic conditions.

  • Download PDF: Diane Beeson testimony at hearing on stem cell research

  • Download PDF: Judy Norsigian testimony on Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research After Seoul: Examining Exploitation, Fraud, and Ethical Problems in the Research
  • 2) assessments -- based on replicated studies -- about the likelihood that the intended research will result in cures.

  • web article: Peter Aldhous, "Stem Cells: Miracle Postponed"
  • 3) disclosures regarding whether and how the research will lead to commercial patenting

  • Download PDF: Lori B. Andrews article on Patent Policy: Rethinking Intellectual Property Rights. Nature

  • web article: Biotech Patenting 101
  • 4) disclosures regarding potential consequences of the research other than cures, such as, inheritable genetic modification, designer babies, human reproductive cloning, the creation of animal-human chimeras, and commodification of human biology.

  • Download PDF: Stuart Newman, "Averting the Clone Age"
  • 5) disclosures regarding any and all conflicts of interests on the part of hESC researchers

  • Dr. Who? by Neil Munroe for the Washington Monthly
  • Download PDF: M.L. Tina Stevens, Intellectual Capital and Voting Booth Bioethics: A Contemporary Historical Critique
  • FUTURE PROSPECTS:

    Women need this information in order to weigh the risks and benefits of the research activities in which they are being asked to participate. If and when such informed consent becomes possible then enforceable regulations should be considered regarding whether and how to monitor eggs and embryos, reimburse for costs, provide for donor health care, etc.