BLOODLINES: Technology Hits Home
A PBS documentary with partial funding from the Ethical, Legal,
and Social Issues of the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program.
Offering hope to infertile couples. Curing disease by
mixing human and animal cells. Assessing risk with genetic testing. Over
the past few decades, the public has become increasingly comfortable with
a growing menu of medical procedures, as interventions that were once
science fiction become commonplace. But as reproductive and genetic technologies
move out of the laboratory and into medical practice, as they are combined
into complex applications and applied in unforeseen ways, they are forcing
us to ask the question: are we creating a world that we won’t want
A baby with five "parents" and none of them recognized
by law. A patent application for a creature that would be genetically
part-human and part-chimpanzee. A corporation secretly doing genetic tests
on its workers. These scenarios are not only real, they are challenging
our most fundamental beliefs and establishing legal precedents that govern
our future. BLOODLINES: Technology Hits
Home, a one-hour documentary that premieres on PBS, Tuesday, June 10th
at 9pm, BLOODLINES:
Technology Hits Home, a one-hour PBS documentary, reveals how
new life technologies are raising ethical, legal and social dilemmas as
cutting-edge science intersects with the law.
Written, produced and directed by Noel Schwerin and
narrated by Andre Braugher, BLOODLINES explores these
BABY WITH FIVE PARENTS
John and Luanne Buzzanca just wanted a baby. After countless
attempts at artificial insemination, six in vitro fertilizations, six
surrogates, and two hundred thousand dollars, they finally conceive a
child with a surrogate and donated sperm and egg. But what happens when,
a month before the baby is due, John files for divorce and claims there
are no children of the marriage? "This baby has no legal parents,"
rules the trial judge. Who, then, of the five parties involved, is responsible
for the child?
Humans can now be crossed with other primates. A developmental
biologist applies for a patent on a (technologically possible) half-human,
half-chimpanzee embryo. To what end? How would we relate to such part-human
creatures and what place would they have in human society? Would they,
for instance, have the right to vote?
A railroad requires its employees to submit to a medical
exam, then secretly tests them for a genetic predisposition to disease.
Some workers realize the company may be seeking a medical excuse to discriminate
against them. They go to court, conscious that their careers are on the
line either way. What is privacy, and what are our rights when such intimate
– and potentially stigmatizing – information can be revealed
BLOODLINES: Technology Hits Home also
has an exciting, interactive companion Web site http://www.pbs.org/bloodlines/.
Designed for the general public as well as
educators and professionals, it provides history, context and commentary
on the practical as well as the ethical, legal and social implications
biotechnologies. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the
Web site launches June, 2003, and will have press and outreach materials
promotion of BLOODLINES in local markets.
BLOODLINES ON TAPE
Write: Backbone Media
Harriman, N.Y. 10926
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR BLOODLINES
"We have been bombarded with hype about the
ways in which
the new molecular genetics will someday affect out lives. In refreshing
contrast, BLOODLINES brings to life and deftly explores
a series of issues currently at the vanguard of these technologies. In
sensitive, reflective, and sophisticated ways, the film reveals just how
much the "future" conundrums of genetics, law, responsibility,
and human dignity are already with us."
Troy Duster, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology,
New York University, Chancellor's Professor, University of California,
Berkeley, and author, "The Legislation of Morality" and "Backdoor
"Reproduction was once one of the most private
and personal of human
activities and amid the revolution we are undergoing in biotechnology,
has become anything but. This is a realm of artificial insemination,
in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm donors, pregnancy surrogates,
prenatal screening for genetic traits. In some realms, this saves
individuals from the heartbreak of childlessness. In others, it poses
some of the toughest ethical questions in medicine. Bloodlines tackles
this all - an immensely provocative and well-done film."
Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., Professor of
Biology, Stanford University and prize-winning author of "The Trouble
with Testosterone," "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" and "A
"This excellent video explores entirely new territory
at the intersection of law, technology, and society with clarity and respect.
The wonderful photography, the real people, and the bleak midwestern landscapes
set the stage for a wide-ranging discussion of these important issues."
Sally Tobin, Ph.D., M.S.W., Senior
Research Scholar, Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University
"For those who like to consider the complex philosophical
and ethical issues that could arise with third-party reproduction, BLOODLINES
is compelling and very well told. Through individual stories, it brings
to life such challenging questions as whether biology or intention holds
the greater claim to parenthood…it is a riveting piece that should
cause all of us to look at our state’s laws and case law about third-party
reproduction to see if they would lead to the largely fair outcomes we
see in BLOODLINES.
RESOLVE, the largest national association
providing information, advocacy and support to men and women facing infertility.
Credit for the top image: Photo by Steve Burns. Design
© 2003 Backbone Media. All rights reserved.