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Genetic Crossroads
January 24th, 2005

Investigative Report: Rob Stein, "Technology Allows Choice; Embryo Screening Stirs Ethics Debate," Washington Post (December 14)
A front-page report describes the rising use of pre-pregnancy social sex selection methods in the United States.

Organization: Women's Bioethics Project
WBP is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public-policy think tank devoted to research, analysis, education, and publication, headquartered in Seattle. It seeks to promote "the thoughtful application of biotechnology to improve the status of women's lives and seeks to protect vulnerable populations by anticipating unintended consequences, safeguarding women's bodies from harm, and ensuring that women's life priorities are recognized." Key issues include stem cell research, cloning, and genetic testing, as well as broader women's health concerns.

Study Guide: Human Genetics and Progress: Faithfully Engaging Science, the Possible and the Limits of Human Progress
In 2002 the National Council of Churches of Christ began studying the implications of the new human genetic technologies from the perspective of mainstream Protestant and Orthodox faith traditions. As part of this effort the NCCC prepared a study guide for congregations, based on the noted book by Bill McKibben, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age.

Report: "Altered Nuclear Transfer Crosses Ethical Boundaries," International Center for Technology Assessment [PDF]
In December the President's Council on Bioethics heard a proposal from one of its religious conservative members that was meant to circumvent opposition to the use of embryos for stem cell research. The basic plan was to use somatic cell nuclear transfer to create embryos that had no chance of being viable, and use those "altered" embryos to extract stem cells for research. Few commentators seemed to notice two serious problems with this proposal: first, that it still requires women's eggs, and thus that women undergo risky egg extraction procedures; and second, that the procedure would set dangerous precedents that could further the development of eugenic technologies.

Investigative Report: Ravinder Kaur, "Law, Heal Thyself: Sex Detection a Pretext to Harass Honest Doctors," Times of India (January 13)
The Indian government promulgated the PNDT (Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act in order to prevent sex-selective abortion and "end the unfair treatment of girl children in the womb." Yet, this seemingly positive step has become a source of harassment for radiologists who do not practice sex detection.

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