The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) industry was created to help infertile couples conceive children. About 11% of American couples are infertile and about 1% of all births require ART. With California leading the way in this $4 billion/year industry, there are now about 372 fertility clinics nationwide which have already assisted in more than 200,000 births. This private, self-regulated industry offers couples a variety of ART techniques including in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, gamete intra-fallopian transfer and artificial insemination. Fertility clinics sell the eggs, sperm and expertise needed to treat couples with infertility conditions. These clinics now offer gender determination services where a couple may select the sex of their child. Rapid advances in genetic technology may one day soon give parents the option of modifying their unborn children to protect them from acquired or inherited diseases. That day may have already arrived in Britain, which recently changed a law to allow the birth of children with three biological parents. In an attempt to eliminate certain incurable genetic diseases, a fraction of a motherâ€™s DNA is exchanged with that from an anonymous female donor, giving the resulting child genetic material from three individuals.
Conceivably, this technology could also be used to make children tall, muscled, blue eyed, intelligent or possess any other trait a parent may consider desirable. Some say ART revisits the Nazi specter of eugenics which held that selective breeding could improve the human race. Opponents acknowledge we have already genetically engineered (GE) crops and animals. However, in the hundreds of thousands of failed attempts to alter the traits of these organisms, we simply discarded the plants and animals which resulted from unsuccessful trials. Obviously, this approach will not work with humans. Critics say that GE is an inexact science incapable of making pinpoint genetic modifications. They wish to ban attempts to perform this procedure on humans, saying it is unethical to remove, implant or alter the genes of an unborn human being. They claim there is no way to test this technology without endangering and sacrificing many lives, since the degree of success of such procedures often canâ€™t be assessed until the subjects grow and age. These same issues are present in attempts to clone humans. Cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of an existing, or previously existing, human. ART supporters say that a GE ban would be very difficult to enforce without forcibly testing all newborns. They also warn that a GE ban would prohibit women with mitochondrial disorders from getting assistance conceiving children. They argue for a compromise which would allow for certain procedures once they had been shown to be safe and effective.
Pending Legislation: None
I oppose reforming current fertility clinic policy
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit genetic modifications of embryos or oocytes until these methods are proven safe