The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the development of a contraceptive microchip that can be remotely controlled to release hormones that can act as abortifacients into a woman’s body for up to 16 years. Both the chip’s potential to take a life and the potential privacy concerns have drawn criticism.
The chip, which measures 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters, can be implanted under the skin of a woman’s buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen in 30 minutes. The device contains a 16-year reservoir of the drug levonorgestrel, releasing 30 micrograms a day – but the dosage can be altered by remote control, as well.
The technology was originally intended, and tested, to release osteoporosis medication in elderly women, but Dr. Robert Langer of MIT changed his focus to contraception after a personal discussion with Bill Gates. Gavin Corley, a biomedical engineer, told the BBC the technology could be used to achieve contraceptive targets in the developing world, indicating “a humanitarian application as opposed to satisfying a first-world need.”
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