HOUSTON, October 27, 2005 ( – An experiment has been underway for a month in a Houston Texas where parents are permitted to ask scientists for a child with the gender of their choice. The procedure involves preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which is able to detect the sex of embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) prior to their implantation in their mothers’ wombs.

While sex selection via PGD has been allowed in some cases where sex-linked diseases are concerned, the clinical trial is seeking to gage the impact of sex selection at the whim of the parents. According to the journal Nature, the researchers, led by Sandra Carlson of Baylor College of Medicine, will be studying the long term health effect to the children born after PGD and also the social impact on the families.

The fundamental ethical problems behind PGD lie in its origin of IVF which creates children outside of the loving union of a man and a woman. Moreover, the lives of the embryonic children conceived by the IVF procedure are under severe threat since the latest statistics have revealed that over 85% of embryos transferred in the procedure die in the process.

However, with those arguments ignored, and IVF accepted as a moral procedure in most of the world, researchers are left looking at PGD as perhaps problematic since it may cause sex discrimination as is the case in China and India. Both countries have seen a discrepancy in the ratio of boys and girls born since one-child policies and discrimination against female children has resulted in abortion being used to eliminate female babies in utero.

PGD sex selection is banned in Canada, Britain and several other countries for that reason. However the researchers are suggesting sex selection may be ethical for ‘family balancing’. The researchers have said they will only accept couples into the trial who have a child and want another child of the opposite sex.

PGD is already routinely used to screen out embryos with genetic defects. Thus those embryonic children with disabilities are disposed of (read killed) prior to being given a chance to be born, a fact which has been of serious concern to groups advocating for the disabled.

See coverage of the loss of life and medical risks of IVF: