View Full Version : Designer baby row over US clinic

03-02-2009, 09:52 PM

A US clinic has sparked controversy by offering would-be parents the chance to select traits like the eye and hair colour of their offspring.

The LA Fertility Institutes run by Dr Jeff Steinberg, a pioneer of IVF in the 1970s, expects a trait-selected baby to be born next year.

His clinic also offers sex selection.

UK fertility experts are angered that the service will distract attention from how the same technology can protect against inherited disease.

The science is based on a lab technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

This involves testing a cell taken from a very early embryo before it is put into the mother's womb.

Doctors then select an embryo free from rogue genes - or in this case an embryo with the desired physical traits such as blonde hair and blue eyes - to continue the pregnancy, and discard any others.

Dr Steinberg said couples might seek to use the clinic's services for both medical and cosmetic reasons.

For example, a couple might want to have a baby with a darker complexion to help guard against a skin cancer if they already had a child who had developed a melanoma. But others might just want a boy with blonde hair.

His clinic is offering this cosmetic selection to patients already having genetic screening for abnormal chromosome conditions in their embryos.

"Not all patients will qualify for these tests and we make NO guarantees as to 'perfect prediction' of things such as eye colour or hair colour," says the clinic's website.

Dr Steinberg said: "I would not say this is a dangerous road. It's an uncharted road."

He said the capability to offer such services had been around for years, but had been ignored by the medical community.

"It's time for everyone to pull their heads out of the sand."

Slippery slope

But Dr Gillian Lockwood, a UK fertility expert and member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' ethics committee, questioned whether is was morally right to be using the science in this way.

"If it gets to the point where we can decide which gene or combination of genes are responsible for blue eyes or blonde hair, what are you going to do with all those other embryos that turn out like me to be ginger with green eyes?"

She warned against "turning babies into commodities that you buy off the shelf."

Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "This is the inevitable slippery slope of a fertility process which results in many more embryos being created than can be implanted. Choices will always have to be made. Do you choose octuplets or the ones with the prettiest noses?"

In the UK, sex selection is banned and choices are currently permitted only in relationship to the baby's health.

Italian fertility law does not permit the creation of surplus embryos or selective testing. Ms Quintavalle said that was "one sure way to avoid the slippery slope".

Meanwhile, new legislation in the UK, due to come in on 6 April, will allow IVF mothers to name anyone as "father" on the birth certificate - even another woman.

The only restriction on naming a second parent will be if they are close blood relatives or if the second person does not agree.

03-02-2009, 09:57 PM
I think religious people will get mad

03-02-2009, 10:13 PM
I think it wil go beyond those who have religon that this will bother.

03-02-2009, 10:21 PM
I think religious people will get mad

It goes way beyond "religion"

It goes into the ethics of genetic manipulation. . . and smacks of neo-eugenics.

03-02-2009, 10:33 PM
Uggghh, I had heard about this before and hoped no one would be crazy enough to actually want this done.

I know it's a serious issue, but the only thing I can think of is Dr. Mephisto from South Park and a pig with four asses.

tony hipchest
03-02-2009, 10:37 PM
It goes way beyond "religion"

It goes into the ethics of genetic manipulation. . . and smacks of neo-eugenics.i agree... Eugene is gonna be pissed. :hunch:


03-03-2009, 12:53 AM
i agree... Eugene is gonna be pissed. :hunch:




03-03-2009, 07:06 AM
I think religious people will get mad

I'm offended by your comment :wink02: Just kidding!

I mean really if scientists want to play God, let them. I believe there will be hell to pay when it's all said and done but I've got my own relationship with Christ to worry about. I know when my wife got pregnant over 4 years ago I was praying for a boy, wanted a boy - you know the next great Steelers LB, and then God blessed me with the most beautful girl in the world (next to my wife). I then realized that God gave me the first female kicker to be in the NFL :laughing: I just think if people can't see the blessing in unanswered prayers but decide to take matters in to their own understanding they miss out on something better.

But it does remind me of the joke:
One day a scientist told God they didn't need him anymore that they found a way to create humans out of dirt just like he did when creating Adam.

So God, politely said, "OK, let me see it!"

Then the scientist bent down and picked up some dirt and God said, "Wait! Stop! Get your own dirt!"

we make NO guarantees as to 'perfect prediction' of things such as eye colour or hair colour," says the clinic's website. I'm sure the price is hefty and yet they really can't guarantee anything!!! Not exactly something I'd want to hear after putting down some big bucks on this.

03-03-2009, 08:54 AM
Thus another reason California should be blown up into the ocean.