“Many” US couples seek embryo screening to select the sex of their child

Performed in 9% of all embryo screenings last year, according to a recent survey:

Boy or girl? Almost half of U.S. fertility clinics that offer embryo screening say they allow couples to choose the sex of their child, the most extensive survey of the practice suggests.

Sex selection without any medical reason to warrant it was performed in about 9 percent of all embryo screenings last year, the survey found.


The survey was led by Susanna Baruch, a lawyer at Johns Hopkins University’s Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., with the cooperation of the reproductive medicine society. It involved an online survey of 415 fertility clinics, of which 190 responded.

They were asked about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, which can be done as part of in vitro fertilization, when eggs and sperm are mixed in a lab dish and the resulting embryos implanted directly into the womb. In PGD, a single cell from an embryo that is three to five days old is removed to allow its genes and chromosomes to be analyzed.

About 1 of every 20 in vitro pregnancy attempts in the United States last year used PGD, the survey found.

Two-thirds of the time it was to detect abnormalities that would keep the embryo from developing normally and doom the pregnancy attempt.

In 12 percent of cases, PGD was used to detect single-gene disorders like those that cause cystic fibrosis. Three percent of cases were to detect problems that mostly affect males, because they have only one copy of certain genes.

However, these cases are different from those done purely for gender preference. A whopping 42 percent of clinics that offer PGD said they had done so for non-medically related sex selection. Nearly half of those clinics said they would only offer sex selection for a second or subsequent child.

“That’s really startling,” University of Pennsylvania ethicist Arthur Caplan said of the high number of PGD for sex selection alone. “Family balancing seems like a morally persuasive reason to some people,” but doing gender selection just because a couple doesn’t want any girls, or any boys, is troubling, he said.

One doctor who offers it takes a different view.

“It performs a much desired service. We’re making people happy,” said Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of Fertility Institutes, which has clinics in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Guadalajara, Mexico.

That’s what it’s all about! If it feels good, do it or in this case, have it done.

We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? “Progressives”, pat yourselves on the backs, and thank your lucky stars that back in the day your parents likely didn’t have an option in deciding whether or not they wanted to have you or a baby of the opposite sex.


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