Preimplantation genetic diagnosis for elective sex selection, the IVF market economy, and the child--another long day's journey into night?

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2002 Sep;19(9):433-7. doi: 10.1023/a:1016819908612.


The promise of medical innovation has long evoked social commentary, particularly when personal reproductive autonomy may be involved. Development of the oral contraceptive, effective and safe surgical sterilization, and later IVF and ICSI are among the revolutionary developments where the initial reactions were dubious but were accorded mainstream status with sufficient clinical experience. In each instance, debate about the moral and social implications of these treatments accompanied their introduction into the medical marketplace. This pattern appears to be repeating itself in connection with the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for elective sex selection of human embryos. As with prior challenges in reproductive medicine, the development of meaningful "guidelines" for this latest controversy has proven to be a contentious task. Indeed, the progression of ethics committee reports from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine seems to echo the ambivalence within society at large regarding this issue. In this report, we chronicle sex selection claims based on sperm sorting, and describe how flow cytometry and especially PGD have facilitated this selection at the gamete and embryo stage, respectively. In doing so, we also explore market forces and practitioner considerations associated with the application of PGD for this; related ethical issues with particular emphasis on the progeny derived from such treatment are also reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis / ethics*
  • Sex Preselection / ethics*