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Envisioning the Human Rights of Women
in the Age of Biotechnology and Science
[International Forum]
20~21, September, 2006
Seoul, Korea
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International Forum
   ¡Ü Background
   ¡Ü Program
   ¡Ü Introduction
   ¡Ü Abstract
   ¡Ü Final Report

Activities for women's health
   ¡Ü Objectives
   ¡Ü Activities

Korean Womenlink

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[Keynote Speeches]

1. Reproductive Ability, Motherhood and Civil Rights
- Kim, Eun Sil (Ewha Woman's University, Women's Studies)

This text raises questions about how reproductive ability of Korean women becomes the mechanism to reproduce borders of state nations, gender concepts and the existing social orders, and if the issue about the reproduction of lives separated from women's bodies is always anti-feminist. In spite of the experience of the Hwang Woo-suk scandal, the reason that egg extraction itself is not a big issue socially is that stem cell research is related to Korean national interest and the political and cultural recognition in Korean society that women's issues are regarded as a less important subject than national interest. The text examines where women's reproductive ability is located in Korean modernity and where reproductive rights stand in civil rights movement of Korean women. For the examination, it develops discussion on the state power and women's reproduction such as women's civil rights movement in Korean society and a discourse on low birth rates.

2. "Biotechnology" and "Women's Bodies" : Hazardous Concepts?
- Janelle S. Taylor (Department of Anthropology, University of Washington)

This text says that very simple insight, that health, illness, healing, and medicine including medical technologies, even the cutting-edge biotechnologies of stem-cell research and cloning, can if we take it seriously really help us think more clearly and act more effectively around issues such as stem cells and cloning. And this text offers some reflections and cautions concerning the theoretical ideas that are already implicit within the key terms "biotechnology"and "women's bodies," around which our discussion here has coalesced. We must try to make explicit the assumptions hidden within these terms that we are using, drag them into view so that we can reflect on them, discuss them, and work through them together, as consciously and as thoughtfully as we can. After discussing this concerning of two concepts, Taylor argues that to combat the fetishism of biotechnology and women's bodies and reclaim them as fully social requires working to create new contexts, and offers four helpful suggestions.
Full text : Taylor20060921.pdf

[panel session]

3. Embryonic stem cell research and Women
- Myung Jin Sook (Member of the policy Committee of Korean Womenlink / Director, Civil Leadership Program ELSD)

In Korean society which had experienced the Hwang Woo-suk scandal, research using women's eggs as raw materials was appreciated as global success and was discussed to promote national competitiveness, but concerns for women's bodies and health was taken lightly. Taking the stand that the difference in experiences by sex should be considered important, this writing arranges the problems of Hwang Woo-suk's research in Korean society in a women's position.
Full text : Myung20060921.pdf

4. The Politics of Stem Cell Research and Egg Extraction in the United States
- Emily Galpern (Center for Genetics and Society, USA)

This text addresses four primary issues in the United States : first, the state of human embryonic stem cell research there; second, the connection between abortion politics and stem cell research and the consequent polarized nature of public debate; third, the emphasis on reproductive rights as individual rights rather than human rights; and fourth, the absence of comprehensive national regulation of genetic and reproductive technologies or consistent safeguards for women who provide eggs for stem cell research. And it concludes with our responsibility, globally, as women's health advocates.
Full text : Galpern20060921.pdf

5. The Health Risks of Egg Extraction
- Elana Hayasaka (Our Bodies Ourselves (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

In this text, Elana Hayasaka focuses on the health risks to women associated with the egg extraction process, especially what we don't know about the health risks and safety of the procedure. Many people are under the misimpression that there are no significant risks to egg extraction because it is practiced so widely in several hundred IVF clinics across the United States and hundreds more across the globe. This being said, there is currently very little good-quality information about egg extraction to aid women in making informed choices. She starts with what we do know, and then touch upon the many unanswered questions that have the potential to hurt and exploit the health of women.
Full text : Hayasaka20060921.pdf

6. Beyond Bioethics: The Globalized Reality of Ova Trafficking and the Possibility of Feminist Intervention
- Paik, Young Gyung (Member of the Policy Committee, Korean WomenLink / Johns Hopkins University)

After all, at least at the official level, Korean society is now advocating the ¡°harmony of ethics and science.¡± But up to this point, we hear about the inappropriate acquisition or utilization of ¡°human ova.¡± Where are the ¡°people¡± who donated or sold ova and potentially experienced both physical side effects and a sense of betrayal after the scientific fraud was revealed? Why there is nobody accountable for their suffering, legally, financially or even morally? This text starts with a story that Korean WomenLink, with 35 other Women¡¯s NGOs and Women¡¯s Committee of Minbyun, Lawyers for a Democratic Society, sponsored two voluntary donors to file a suit against the state and the medical institutions involved in the egg extraction, and focuses on why the issue of egg extraction should be dealt with as an important societal agenda and should not be left to some NGOs¡¯ or to a handful of experts such as scientists, ethicists, or lawyers.

7. "Ethics or Economics? Health or Wealth? Beyond Ova in the Lab"
- Sarah Sexton (The Corner House, UK)

In the U.K, activities related to human biotechnology research are to facilitate such research. As debates and decisions surrounding the research are framed by the dichotomy between for and against treatment, advancement and women's choice, there are no chances to raise issues about who take care of them, what roles biotechnology plays in science, health and society. This text raises issues that are regarded to have something to do with cloning and biotechnology research. In the process, I want it to help solidarity, activities and campaigns to secure women's human rights in the age of biotechnology and science.
Full text : Sexton20060921.pdf

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