Half of U.S.
fertility clinics that offer the embryo screening technique known
as PGD say they allow couples to use it to choose the sex of their
child, according to a survey recently released by the Genetics
and Public Policy Center and published in the journal Fertility
which also revealed that nearly three quarters of U.S. fertility
clinics offer PGD, collected basic facts about the use of the procedure
that have been previously unavailable. The growing U.S. fertility
industry operates with minimal oversight and regulation.
PGD use appears to be growing rapidly yet no comprehensive data
exist about the practice of PGD in the United States," the
authors of the paper observe. "Without the basic facts, it
is not possible for researchers to evaluate thoroughly current PGD
practices and devise ways to improve the technology or analyze the
health outcomes for babies born following PGD."
When PGD was
first introduced in 1990, it was offered so that couples could screen
for diseases such as Tay-Sachs, which is inevitably fatal in early
childhood. Today, PGD can be used to detect hundreds of conditions,
and clinics are offering it so that couples can deselect embryos
with even small probabilities of late-onset diseases, such as some
forms of cancer and Alzheimer's. As these boundaries are pushed,
more voices are calling for oversight and regulation of these technologies.
Rick Weiss, "Increasingly,
Couples Use Embryo Screening," Washington Post (September
fertility clinics allow parents to pick gender," Associated
Press (September 20)
Opinion: Will Saletan, "Where
Do Babies Come From?" Washington Post (September