Baylor College of Medicine has recently approved a clinical trial in which fertility doctors will provide an IVF technique to 50 couples who want to choose the sex of their next child, and then study the health of the babies and the social factors in the families as the children grow up. According to an article in Nature(October 27), it has taken nine years to convince the Baylor ethics review board to allow the study, presumably because it is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for researchers to create human beings with particular traits in order to study them.
Many countries, including Canada and the UK, prohibit the use of assisted reproductive technology to choose the sex of an embryo for personal or social reasons. The U.S. has no regulations governing either sex selection or the embryo screening technique known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). But the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have both issued policy statements opposing the use of PGD for social sex selection.
The study's principal investigator, Dr. Sandra Carson, is Medical Director of Baylor's Assisted Reproductive Technology Department. From 2002-2003, she was ASRM's president. Asked about the organization's position on Carson's study, ASRM public affairs director Sean Tipton declined comment. However, Tipton told Nature, "We can sanction and remove members who don't obey ethics statements."