Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Sex Selection: Final Word from the ASRM Ethics Committee on the Use of PGD

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Sex Selection: Final Word from the ASRM Ethics Committee on the Use of PGD

Article excerpt

Selecting the sex of children for non-medical purposes raises complicated questions of sexism and gender stereotyping, procreative liberty, the allocation of medical resources, and, depending on the method used, respect for the earliest stages of human life. Few people in the United States would use abortion for this purpose (the experience in India is different), but some are willing to use preconception sperm sorting techniques or even to create and biopsy embryos to have a child of the preferred sex.

In 1999, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine had concluded that couples should be discouraged from undergoing IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) solely to choose the gender of offspring. In 2001, however, the committee found that prefertilization methods of gender selection, such as flow cytometry sperm sorting, would be ethically acceptable if the couple already had a child and wanted a child of the opposite sex--in other words, to obtain gender variety in their children. Because sperm sorting does not require creating and discarding embryos, the committee focused on claims that all method of gender selection, even prefertilization methods, are inherently discriminatory or sexist. Although it recognized that there is discriminatory potential in selecting the sex of first children, it found that reasonable persons might disagree over whether selecting the gender of a child opposite that of existing children was also inherently discriminatory. It concluded that preconception methods of sex selection could be ethically used for creating gender variety in a family, at least when certain other conditions were met, including establishment of the safety of preconception methods.

It does not follow, however, that PGD for gender variety, as opposed to selecting the first child, was also acceptable. …

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