Medically Indicated Sex Selection

The medical reason for sex selection is to prevent sex-linked genetic disorders, as discussed in Chapter 10. Ideally, the best way to screen for a genetic disorder would be to test for the specific gene that is causing the disorder, but unfortunately, science and technology have not yet reached that point for many diseases. Therefore, the only way to prevent a known sex-linked genetic disorder is to choose to give birth to a baby of the sex that is not affected. For example, if a woman carries the gene for hemophilia, then 50 percent of her sons will have hemophilia, a life-threatening disease. Girls born to this woman will not have the disease, though they could be carriers of hemophilia. To ensure that her children will not have hemophilia, the woman either decides to abort male fetuses or chooses not to transfer male embryos back into her uterus. Of course, this is not ideal, because healthy male embryos may be discarded. Though still a new technology, MicroSort, which helps to select the sex prior to fertilization through sperm sorting, is more favorable than discarding or aborting the embryo after it has begun to develop and grow.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) committee on ethics states that the practice of sex selection for the purpose of preventing sex-linked genetic disorders is ethically permissible.

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