Jan 152015
 

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 mother’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 can’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

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that affects both men and women. There are currently about 7 million American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are infertile. Many of these women use assisted reproductive technology (ART) including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination, embryo transfer and intracervical insemination to help them conceive children. The cost of an entire process of an IVF cycle, from consultation to transfer, averages about $8,000. However, compared to children conceived naturally, studies have found higher rates of birth defects in children conceived by IVF, including defects in heart, urinary and reproductive organs. Some say our general decrease in fertility could result from reduced sperm counts in males. Studies have found that between 1938 and 1996, the sperm count of American males fell about 1% each year, while European males experienced decreases that were twice as great. The reason for these declines is not precisely known but it is suspected environmental pollution may be partially to blame. Male infertility treatments include improving the quality and quantity of sperm with hormones, vitamins and microsurgery. Another likely reason for our rapid rise in infertility is that more women are having their first child later in life. In 1970, nearly 12,000 women had their first child between the ages of 35-39. That number grew to nearly 45,000 in 1986 and climbed to nearly 90,000 by 1997. Likewise, about 2,400 women gave birth to their first child between the ages of 40 and 44 in 1970. By 1986, this figure doubled to 4,400 and then jumped to 15,000 women by 1997.

Pending Legislation:

S.881 & H.R.1851 – Family Act of 2013

S.131 & H.R.958 – Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current infertility policy and wish to defeat S.881 & H.R.1851 and S.131 & H.R.958

I support amending the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax credit for 50% of qualified infertility treatment expenses; limiting the dollar amount of such credit to $12,970 for taxable years beginning in 2013, with a phase-out of such credit for taxpayers based on adjusted gross income. Defines “qualified infertility treatment expenses” as amounts paid for the treatment of infertility via in vitro fertilization if such treatment is provided by a licensed physician, surgeon, or other medical practitioner and is administered with respect to a diagnosis of infertility by a physician licensed in the United States, and wish to pass S.881 & H.R.1851

I support including fertility counseling and treatment within authorized Department of Veterans Affairs medical services; furnishing such counseling and treatment, including the use of assisted reproductive technology, to a spouse or surrogate of a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system, as long as the spouse and veteran apply jointly for such counseling and treatment; authorizing the Secretary to pay to any such veteran an amount to assist in the adoption of one or more children, and wish to pass S.131 & H.R.958

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

For several decades, there has been substantial evidence that many of the chemicals used in our everyday products are harmful to our health. However, recent studies now show these chemicals also damage men’s ability to reproduce. These chemicals, known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), disrupt or interfere with our body’s endocrine system including the estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormone systems. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be damaged by these disruptors. Humans and animals depend on healthy endocrine systems to reproduce and develop normally. EDCs are found in plastics, fragrances, pesticides, the linings of food and beverage cans, fire retardants used in carpets and furniture, household cleaning and personal care products, and many, many more. Health advocates say endocrine disruptors are now common throughout the world. Nearly 800 chemicals with known or potential endocrine-disrupting properties have already been identified, but hardly any human testing has been done. The EPA established the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program in 1998 but its results have been delayed for more than 15 years. EPA critics claim efforts by business and industry have been responsible for delaying this report. These entities would incur great expense if forced to find substitutes for the chemicals they use in our everyday products. Critics also claim our 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act has not been updated since it was passed, even though the chemicals in many of the products we use have vastly changed. Children are most affected by EDCs because their developing brains and bodies are especially vulnerable to these chemicals. However, it is the way male fetuses form in the womb that makes them susceptible to genital birth defects. Scientists say a critical period of development is the transition from a fertilized egg into a fully formed infant. These defects include hypospadias and cryptorchidism, which are risk factors for low sperm quality and testicular cancer. Scientists in Europe, where this phenomenon is more prevalent, have coined the term “testicular dysgenesis syndrome” to describe the increasing rates of testicular cancer and low sperm counts in European men.

Pending Legislation:

S.696 – Safe Chemicals Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current male infertility policy and wish to defeat S.696

I support updating the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act and limiting the use of chemicals linked to diseases like asthma, diabetes, childhood cancers, infertility, and learning and behavioral disorders; improving the safety of chemicals used in consumer products; increasing public information on chemical safety; protecting our most vulnerable populations and disproportionately affected ‘hot spot’ communities; reforming EPA’s science practices to ensure the best available science is being used to determine chemical safety; supporting innovation in the marketplace and providing incentives for the development of safer chemical alternatives, and wish to pass S.

 Posted by at 12:00 am