The acting chair of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine
(ASRM) Ethics Committee, John Robertson, has stated that it
is some- times acceptable for couples seeking "gender variety"
in their children to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
for sex selection.
The opinion "stunned many leading fertility specialists,"
according to the New York Times. It was expressed in a letter
from Robertson to Dr. Norbert Gleicher, a fertility specialist
and founder of an organization that operates nine fertility
clinics in the Chicago and NYC areas. Both Robertson and Gleicher
are long-time advocates of human cloning.
"What's the next step?" asked Dr. William Schoolcraft
of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Englewood.
"As we learn more about genetics, do we reject kids who
do not have superior intelligence or who don't have the right
color hair or eyes?"
In an October 1 statement, ASRM Executive Director Dr. Robert
Rebar said that Robertson's letter does not reflect ASRM's position.
The group's Ethics Committee will discuss the issue at its next
meeting in January. In the meantime, Gleicher plans to start
offering PGD for sex selection "immediately" (Kolata,
Because it is a selective technology, PGD has remained taboo
for any- thing other than prevention of a handful of severe
hereditary diseases. Sex selection by any means for non-medical
purposes is against the law in many countries, and has been
strongly opposed by women's rights groups around the world.
In the US , a few fertility clinics offer a sex selection technique
based on sperm sorting, but until now none has proposed using
PGD, which is much riskier and more invasive.
Gina Kolata, "Fertility
Ethics Authority Approves Sex Selection," New York
Times, September 28, 2001.
ASRM Position on Gender Selection, Oct 1, 2001. <www.asrm.org/Media/Press/genderselection.html>