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Sex Selection in the United States

Sunday, November 1, 2009
Sex Selection

[img_assist|nid=5876|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=115|height=98]by Tarun Jain M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Chicago IVF

The idea of couples being able to choose the sex of their child prior to conception is not new. From centuries past, many ‘methods’ have been proposed to give desiring couples the opportunity to choose a boy or girl. Effective medical options became available in the 1970s with the advent of ultrasound, amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling. With these options, however, an abortion would be necessary if a particular fetal sex was not desired. More recent scientific advancements, however, have made it possible for women to attempt sex selection prior to embryo creation or implantation. Although such technologies were initially intended to prevent the birth of children with sex-linked genetic disorders, they are being increasingly used for preimplantation sex selection for non-medical reasons.

The concept and use of sex selection for non-medical reasons is certainly not without significant ethical issues. The main concern is that widespread use of such technology may support sexist practices, alter the natural sex ratio, and lead to a socially disruptive imbalance of the sexes. This article will review the myths and technology currently available to patients, along with the potential ethical issues.

Preconception sex selection technology for non-medical reasons is commercially available in the United States, via sperm sorting or PGD. Sperm sorting is in the final stages of obtaining FDA approval. The availability and use of such technology has generated significant interest and controversy among medical societies, bioethicists, healthcare providers, and the government. Individual patients and providers should be aware of the technology along with the ethical issues.

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