WASHINGTON, September 28, 2001 ( – The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), which establishes guidelines on new reproductive technologies followed by most U.S. fertility clinics, shocked the industry recently by permitting pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to be used to select the sex of offspring. A request by Dr. Norbert Gleicher to offer sex-selection via PGD was approved in a letter by the acting chairman of the ethics committee at ASRM, John Robertson. Robertson is an ethicist and lawyer at the University of Texas.

The New York Times reports that experts in the field reacted with horror to the decision. “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?” But Gleicher was excited about the ruling saying, “We will offer it immediately . Frankly, we have a list of patients who asked for it.”

Robertson wrote the PGD could be used for “gender variety” so that a couple who already had a child of one sex could select embryos that would guarantee them that the embryo selected was of the opposite sex.

Gleicher said his request was filed after the ASRM okayed a process to sort sperm for sex-selection.

Mr. Robertson wrote that embryo sex selection could be offered for gender variety “when there is a good reason to think that the couple is fully informed of the risks of the procedure and are counseled about having unrealistic expectations about the behavior of children of the preferred gender.” But Dr. Schoolcraft said he saw a real difference between the two methods. “With sperm sorting, you are not throwing away potential babies,” he said. Many scientists and physicians would argue that an embryo is scientifically fully human and cannot be classified as a “potential baby”.

For more see the New York Times at:


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