Doctors at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine are set to begin a “sex selection” study that will allow parents to choose the gender of their baby. Up to 200 couples are to be given the opportunity to choose either a male or female embryo to be placed in the woman’s uterus after in vitro fertilization.
Of course, this means that other “unchosen” embryos will not be implanted, and will be either frozen indefinitely or destroyed.
The most chilling dimension of this study is its rationale. Dr. Sandra Carson, director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s IVF Program said: “We want to know whether using this technology for elective non-medical reasons is a good idea.” This is nonsense. You don’t have to actually perform the experiment in order to consider its morality.
The doctors say they want to understand the motivation of the parents. “Before we make the procedure available in a routine, clinical way, I think it’s a good idea to get actual facts from couples who are actually doing it,” Carson said. Follow the logic carefully. The ethical questions are simply skirted and the emphasis is shifted to the motivation of the parents — as if the experiment would be justified by discovering what these motivations might be.
Houston obstetrician George Gruenert defended the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in order to practice “social sex selection.” As he explained, “There are patients who, for personal reasons, mostly for what we call family balancing reasons, would like to have a child of one sex or the other.” In his judgment, “Use of sex selection in an embryo for family balancing is acceptable.”
From Baptist Press: “What about the unborn embryonic children who will be killed because they do not fit the gender profile their parents want? This is monstrous!” said [Dr. Ben] Mitchell, associate professor of bioethics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago and a consultant for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.”Using children as test subjects in this way is clearly unethical. Children may only be used in clinical research when they have something to gain from the research. But these children have nothing to gain by having their gender chosen. And any harm done to these children cannot be undone,” Mitchell said.
This is one giant step toward the normalization of embryonic sex selection. The leaders of the Baylor College of Medicine have crossed a very clear ethical line in permitting this “research.”