Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1007–1016 | Cite as

Gene Editing, Enhancing and Women’s Role

  • Frida SimonsteinEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

A recent article on the front page of The Independent (September 18, 2015) reported that the genetic ‘manipulation’ of IVF embryos is to start in Britain, using a new revolutionary gene-editing technique, called Crispr/Cas9. About three weeks later (Saturday 10, October 2015), on the front page of the same newspaper, it was reported that the National Health Service (NHS) faces a one billion pound deficit only 3 months into the new year. The hidden connection between these reports is that gene editing could be used to solve issues related to health care allocation. Improving the health of future generations might coincide with public health goals; it might improve the health of individuals and communities, and, if successful, might be seen as a public good. However, enhancing future generations will require In Vitro Fertilisation and Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis. Remarkably, the necessary involvement of women in an enhancing scenario has not been discussed by its proponents. The present discourse on moral obligations of future generations, although not referring to women, seems to imply that women might be required, morally, if not legally, to reproduce with IVF. Enhancing future generations will be gendered, unless the artificial womb is developed. These are challenging issues that require a wider perspective, of both women and men. Despite the lack of a unified feminist conclusion in the discussions about the merits and risks of human genome modification, there is an urgent need to clarify the role of women in this scenario.

Keywords

Genetics Reproduction Health care allocation IVF PGD Ectogenesis 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None.

References

  1. Baltimore, D., Berg, M., Botcha, M., et al. (2015). A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification. Science, 348, 36–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ber, R. (2009). Ethical issues in gestational surrogacy. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 21, 153–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bostrom, N., & Sandberg, A. (2013) [2009]. The wisdom of nature: An evolutionary heuristic for human enhancement. In J. Savulescu, N. Bostrom (Eds.), Human enhancement (pp. 375–416). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Firestone, S. (2003) [1970]. The dialectic of sex. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  5. Harris, J. (2005). Scientific research is a moral duty. Journal of Medical Ethics, 31, 242–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Harris, J. (2007). Enhancing evolution: The ethical case for making better people. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Harris, J. (2013) [2009]. Enhancements are a moral obligation. In J. Savulescu, N. Bostrom (Eds.), Human enhancement (pp. 131–154). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hayry, M. (2010). Rationality and the genetic challenge: Making people better?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. MacKenzie, C., & Stoljar, N. (2000). Introduction: Autonomy refigured. In C. MacKenzie & N. Stoljar (Eds.), Relational autonomy: Feminist perspectives on autonomy, agency, and the social self. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Mortimer I. (2014). Human Race. 10 Centuries of Change on Earth. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  11. Overall, C. (2012). Why have children? The ethical debate. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pilcher, J., & Whelehan, I. (2005) 50 Key concepts in gender studies, 3rd edn. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Ran, F. A., Hsu, P. D., Wright, J., et al. (2013). Genome engineering using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Nature Protocols, 8, 2281–2308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sander-Staudt, M. (2006). Of machine born? A feminist assessment of ectogenesis and artificial wombs. In Scott Gelfand & John R. Shook (Eds.), Ectogenesis: Artificial womb technology and the future of human reproduction (pp. 109–128). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  15. Savulescu, J. (2006). Genetic interventions and the ethics of enhancement of human beings. In Bonnie Steinbock (Ed.), The Oxford handbook on bioethics (pp. 516–535). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Savulescu, J., & Bostrom, N. (2013 [2009]). Human enhancement ethics: The state of the debate. In J Savulescu, N. Bostrom (Eds.), Human enhancement (pp. 1–24). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Savulescu, J., & Kahane, G. (2009). The moral obligation to create children with the best chance of the best life. Bioethics, 23, 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Savulescu, J., Pugh, J., Douglas, T., et al. (2015). The moral imperative to continue gene editing research on human embryos. Protein and Cell, 6, 476–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Senior, M. (2015). UK funding agencies weigh in on human germline editing. Nature Biotechnology, 33, 1118–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sherwin, S. (1998). A relational approach to autonomy in health care. In Susan Sherwin (Ed.), The politics of women’s health: Exploring agency and autonomy in health care (pp. 1–28). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Simonstein, F. (2006). Artificial reproduction technologies and women as human subjects for research. Medicine and Law, 26, 8–12.Google Scholar
  22. Simonstein, F. (2008). Stem cell research—Can the disagreement be resolved? A perspective from Israel. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34, 732–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Simonstein, F., & Mashiach-Eizenberg, M. (2009). The artificial womb: A pilot study considering people’s views on the artificial womb and ectogenesis in Israel. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare, 18, 87–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Simonstein, F., Mashiach-Eizenberg, M., Revel, A., & Yunes, Y. (2014). Assisted reproduction policies in Israel: A retrospective analysis of IVF-ET. Fertility and Sterility, 102, 1301–1306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Solinger, R. (2005). Pregnancy and power. NY: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Steinberg, D. (1997). Bodies in glass: Genetics eugenics and embryo ethics. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Takala, T. (2009). Human before sex? ectogenesis as a way to equality. In F. Simonstein (Ed.), Reprogen-ethics and the Future of Gender (pp. 187–196). London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tong, R. (2006). Out of body gestation: In whose best interests? In Scott Gelfand & John R. Shook (Eds.), Ectogenesis: Artificial womb technology and the future of human reproduction (pp. 59–76). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  29. Walker, A. (2009). Commentary: The emergence and application of active aging in Europe. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 21, 75–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang, S., Yi, F., & Qu, J. (2015). Eliminate mitochondrial diseases by gene editing in germ-line cells and embryos. Protein and Cell, 6, 472–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. WHO (2015). Integrated surveillance of noncommunicable diseases A European Union-WHO project. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/314507/iNCD-Report-2015.pdf. Accessed 25 Jan 2017.
  32. Zimmer, Z., & McDaniel, S. A. (2013). Global ageing in the twenty-first century. In Z. Zimmer & S. McDaniel (Eds.), Ageing in the twenty-first century: Challenges, opportunities and implications (pp. 1–12). New York: Ashgate.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Systems ManagementMax Stern Yezreel Valley College, D.N. Emek YezreelJezreel ValleyIsrael

Personalised recommendations