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Joe Francis is Talking Openly about Fertility Treatment and It's Refreshing
a blog by Jennifer A. Redmond, April 29, 2014
It’s refreshing that Joe Francis of “Girls Gone Wild” fame, and his girlfriend, model Abbey Wilson, are talking openly about their elective use of fertility treatment to get pregnant. They didn’t need to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), but they chose to so that they would have genetically healthy twin girls. Many people - celebrity or not - aren’t open about fertility treatment, even when it’s the only route to pregnancy.
So what exactly is IVF with PGD? With IVF a woman takes fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries and produce multiple eggs. A fertility doctor retrieves the eggs and fertilizes them with sperm in the lab to develop into embryos. With PGD a few cells are safely removed from the embryo and the lab analyzes the chromosomes to determine which embryos are chromosomally normal. The embryologist can also see which embryos carry male or female chromosomes. Francis says having healthy babies was their goal, and being able to choose their gender was a bonus.
“Sex selection with PGD is becoming a fairly common practice,” says Los Angeles fertility doctor Arthur Wisot. “It might not be the right thing for everyone, but in the era of reproductive freedom, people can reproduce as they wish.”
Wisot, who practices with Reproductive Partners Medicine Group, believes that the reason fertility treatment makes some people uncomfortable is that IVF can produce extra embryos. The discomfort comes in based on one’s position that embryos are life, or the potential for life. The reality is they are not life until they are implanted in the uterus.
The other concern is over so-called designer babies. “At the moment, there is no way to create a ‘designer baby,’” Wisot says. “You can only select for sex. Other traits are the result of multiple genetic areas on the chromosome. If Joe Francis wanted blue-eyed, blonde daughters with an IQ of 160, we could not fulfill his order.”
When a couple is resistant to fertility treatment, particularly egg donation, it’s because it’s a foreign concept, Wisot says. He would like to hear a celebrity say, “I wanted a baby, my eggs were too old, I had an egg donor, and now I have a wonderful baby.” It would be a great public service, he says. “If a celebrity is comfortable and proud of getting pregnant with fertility treatment people will listen.”