Sex Selection Ads Cause Controversy

September 11, 2007

The guy who runs the sex selection program sounds kind of clueless to me, but I guess that's how you have to be in that field. As you can see from the site, they are doing cutting edge work.

Now some Indians are traveling from India to The Fertility Institutes, which claims to run the largest sex-selection program in the world. Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of the gender selection program at the Fertility Institutes says 25 percent of his Indian patients travel from India to Los Angeles for the $18,000 procedure. Steinberg affirms that the institute’s ads “absolutely” target the ethnic media because “there’s a strong preference in certain ethnic groups for gender selection, one way or another, boy or girl.” The Fertility Institutes devote 5 percent of its advertising to ethnic media. “The 5 percent brings in about 20 percent of our business,” Steinberg said.

The clinic uses pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which allows doctors to choose embryos on the basis of different criteria like health or sex. When he started getting requests from couples to use PGD to choose the sex of their next child, Steinberg said he accommodated their requests. “It’s certainly a tool that’s available, and I’m not going to deny it to anyone,” he said.

As an Indian American girl, I know very well the preference for boys in my community and I think that this whole thing is mad scary. Now basically, rich Indian families can pay for sons instead of dealing with the burden of daughters -- and they will do it. And do we really now all the side effects of this kind of genetic tampering? What does sex selection do to people? And once we pick the sex of our babies, isn't it just a slippery slope to further genetic modifications. Well, if they are going to do it, maybe they should start here.




calm down many just want to balance their family- I have 5 little girls I love them all so much and would NEVER have wished that any of them to have turned out a boy, but if I could justify spending the money to choose a son I would do it in a heartbeat
argh. as everyone knows, the one-child policy, plus sex-selection-enabling technology, has led to a severe sex imbalance in china. would parents want to condemn their sons to partnerless, childless lives? doesn't that kinda defeat the purpose?
I can certainly understand your distress over this procedure as an Indian American girl, the situation of women in India is tragic.As a clarification, PGD is not genetic tampering. It merely checks whether an embryo is male or female, and only the embryos of the desired sex are used.
I agree with above mummy of 5. I have 2 daughters and I love them alot as well. I would love to have a boy as well to complete my family rather than trying over and over
"PGD is not genetic tampering. It merely checks whether an embryo is male or female, and only the embryos of the desired sex are used."RE: Maureen,I wonder why you said this. Genetic tampering is the layman's term for genetic alteration--which can be alteration at the gene level (X vs. Y sperms) or at the phenotype level (XY vs. XX embryos). You assume that selecting sperms with Y's over X's is no different than selecting embryo's with XY's over XX's. They're the same and in fact the latter is probably a much more potent and surefire way of altering the genetics of the soon-to-be fetus.In order to check the gender of a fertilized and implanted embryo and choose the one you prefer, you artificially alter the genetic population or tamper with the genetics of the fertilization event.Neela is exactly correct in her description of PGD as mode of sex selection and genetic tampering. I find it disturbing that this physician is exploiting taboos of ethnic groups, which are probably already under economic duress (especially to be concerned with gender selection), to further his business. Unfortunately, biomedical ethics can't decide that this guy get banned from practice--it would be the same "choosing the (potential) fetus vs. the mother" situation. I also find it disturbing that medicine in the US has become a cosmetic venture and that this trend according to Dr. Steinberg above is becoming global. Definitely the reason why I can't stand working in the clinic with rich folks with too much time to contemplate and unconsciously wreak doomsday.
actually scratch what I said about exploiting the poor...apparently, these are RICH indians: ...totally redefines the concept of "coming to america"...