Blog of Rights

Selene
Kaye

Breast Cancer, Patenting Human Genes, and Your Civil Liberties

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 8:01pm
On Tuesday evening, Joanna Rudnick joined the ACLU at Tribeca Cinemas to screen her award-winning documentary film, In the Family, and discuss the patenting of human genes, a practice that has serious implications for women like Joanna who have a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. You can see photos from the event here.

First Hearing Held in the Breast Cancer Gene Patents Challenge

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 1:28pm

Fittingly, on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, plaintiffs had their first hearing in federal court yesterday in their challenge to the breast cancer gene patents. The government's granting of exclusive rights to the BRCA1 and 2 human genes…

Families Untied: Public Housing Banning Policy Tears Families Apart

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 3:56pm
(Cross-posted to Daily Kos and Feministing.)

What if the government told you your family couldn't live together? That your father, or your son, or your boyfriend couldn't even come over to your house to visit? That if he did visit you, he would…

Some Priorities for Obama’s New Violence Against Women Advisor

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 6:29pm

Last Friday Vice President Biden announced the appointment of Lynn Rosenthal as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, the first time such a position has existed. We welcome the high-level attention this will bring to violence against…

Why Gene Patents Are Unlawful

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 11:46am

(Originally posted on ACSBlog.)

Last week the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government's practice of granting patents on human genes - specifically, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer. In the last 20 or so years the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued patents on thousands of human genes — the segments of DNA that we all have in our cells — giving private corporations, individuals, and universities the exclusive rights to those genetic sequences and their usage.

The patents on the BRCA genes are particularly broad and offensive. The PTO has granted Myriad Genetics, a private biotechnology company based in Utah, patents on both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic sequences, on any mutations along those genes, on any methods for locating mutations on the genes, without further specification on the type of methods, and on correlations between genetic mutations and susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit charges, as critics of gene patents have argued for years, that gene patents stifle biomedical research and interfere with patients' access to genetic testing. The lawsuit argues that the patents on the BRCA genes are unconstitutional and invalid given the long-standing legal precedent that "products of nature" and "laws of nature" are not patentable. The suit also makes the novel argument that the practice of patenting genes, their correlations with disease, and the thought of comparing two genes violates the First Amendment and interferes with scientific freedom.

Who Owns Your Genes?

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 7:45pm

Today the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s practice of granting patents on human genes – specifically, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer.…

A Timely New Book for the Ongoing Fight for Gender Equality

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 11:50am

Coinciding with the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the fully revised and updated fourth edition of The Rights of Women was released this week. The latest release in the ACLU Handbook Series, The Rights of Women is a comprehensive guide…

Seizing the Moment to Engage the Obama Administration in Real Change for Women and Girls

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 8:39pm

Tomorrow will mark International Women’s Day, providing an opportunity both to celebrate women and the strides we’ve made towards equality, and to recommit ourselves to the ongoing struggles for women’s rights.

On Thursday…

Engaging with the Obama Administration to Advance the Human Rights of Women

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 2:11pm

President Obama hit the ground running on women's rights when, in his second week in office, he made the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first major bill he signed into law.

This week, human rights advocates will gather at the United Nations…

Another Victory in the Fight Against Sexual Harassment

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 1:56pm

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that speaking out about sexual harassment at work shouldn't cost you your job. This comes on the tails of last week's ruling that students who are sexually harassed can bring claims under both Title IX and Section…

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