Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Genetics

Given that this is a course on the ethics and politics of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), genetics, and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), your papers, unsurprisingly, must relate to ART, gene therapy, enhancement, regenerative medicine, or biotechnology. Further, the ultimate focus must be on humans: topics centered on the ethics of animal research, GMOs, agriculture, resurrecting (non-hominin) extinct species, etc., are outside of the purview of this course. What you do choose to focus on is up to you—and it is important that you choose to focus on some, specific, topic. We’re covering a range of issues in this course, far too wide a range for you reasonably to write on. So slice off a portion of one of these issues: DON’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING. For example, Liza Mundy in Everything Conceivable deals with a number of aspects regarding infertility and ART; you could explore one or two of those aspects. Similarly, other readings raise a variety of issues regarding genetic and stem cell research; pick one of those. Finally, I or one of your classmates may bring up an issue or asks a question which grabs you; if so, feel free to center your paper on that issue. As for those of you who’d like to write on abortion: You can’t write on abortion. You may, however, write a paper centered on hESCs or on preimplantation genetic diagnosis or on prenatal testing or on selective termination. Pick an issue which matters to you, which interests you, which puzzles or provokes you; pick something which you want to learn more about, and on which you are willing to do additional research. And you will have to do additional research. The course readings and links at can help you to get started, but you must go beyond this. You must educate yourself sufficiently to be able to reflect intelligently on the complications of that topic. To that end, you should aim for 7 or more scholarly sources per paper. Finally, while your two papers will be linked, they are nonetheless distinct. Thus: Paper 1: In this first paper, examine a particular line of research or a specific practice/technology and lay out exactly what is involved in this research or practice. DO NOT DISCUSS ETHICS IN THIS PAPER Depending upon the research or practice, you may explore the history of the work; questions under active investigation as well as any questions which are considered crucial to advancement of the work; the current status of the work, including whether it has advanced to animal or human clinical trials, and/or whether it is currently in use in medical or commercial practice; any scientific/medical problems associated with the work; who is using or would use the technology; or, if you are working on, say, surrogacy, the technical-legal aspects of the practice. In short, lay out the scientific, medical, and/or technical elements of the research or practice. This paper should be largely descriptive and analytical; your personal opinions are not relevant.

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