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Human Cloning Advocate Pushes Fertility Clinics to OK Sex Selection

Genetic Crossroads
October 3rd, 2001

The acting chair of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Ethics Committee, John Robertson, has stated that it is some- times acceptable for couples seeking "gender variety" in their children to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for sex selection.

The opinion "stunned many leading fertility specialists," according to the New York Times. It was expressed in a letter from Robertson to Dr. Norbert Gleicher, a fertility specialist and founder of an organization that operates nine fertility clinics in the Chicago and NYC areas. Both Robertson and Gleicher are long-time advocates of human cloning.

"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?"

In an October 1 statement, ASRM Executive Director Dr. Robert Rebar said that Robertson's letter does not reflect ASRM's position. The group's Ethics Committee will discuss the issue at its next meeting in January. In the meantime, Gleicher plans to start offering PGD for sex selection "immediately" (Kolata, 2001).

Because it is a selective technology, PGD has remained taboo for any- thing other than prevention of a handful of severe hereditary diseases. Sex selection by any means for non-medical purposes is against the law in many countries, and has been strongly opposed by women's rights groups around the world. In the US , a few fertility clinics offer a sex selection technique based on sperm sorting, but until now none has proposed using PGD, which is much riskier and more invasive.

Gina Kolata, "Fertility Ethics Authority Approves Sex Selection," New York Times, September 28, 2001.

ASRM Position on Gender Selection, Oct 1, 2001. <www.asrm.org/Media/Press/genderselection.html>


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