The acting head of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has said that sex selection of children for non-medical reasons is sometimes acceptable. Responding to an enquiry made by Dr Norbert Gleicher, chairman of the board of the Center for Human Reproduction, acting head Dr John Robertson said that couples could choose the sex of their children by the selection of either male or female embryos during IVF.
Mr Robertson said, following consultation with another ASRM member, that the procedure would be ethical when it was used for what he termed 'gender variety'. This is when couples already have a child or children of a particular sex and wish to balance their family by having a child of the other sex. He said that couples using the 'gender variety' technique would have to be 'fully informed of the risks of the procedure and counselled about having unrealistic expectations about the behaviour of children of the preferred gender'. The ASRM has since put the record straight, saying that Robertson's statement was not official policy. The previous position of the ASRM - which stated in 1999 that gender selection by IVF for non-medical grounds should be discouraged - will stand 'until and unless the entire committee decides otherwise at its next meeting in January'.
Meanwhile, Canadian authors argue in the journal Fertility and Sterility that public funding for IVF should be available to certain patients. Dr Edward Hughes of McMaster University in Ontario said that 'fertility treatment is a very important component of healthcare, especially for young adults. We are dealing with a problem that affects about ten per cent of young people, damages their health in many ways, and yet the community's response to that is not supportive in terms of funding'. But Hughes and his colleagues do not believe that funding should automatically be extended to everyone wanting IVF, stating that it should take place, as far as possible, on the basis of 'medical necessity'.
Sources and References
Fertility authority OKs sex selection
Public funding for IVF advocated for some patients