In vitro fertilization is typically used by couples with infertility issues. However, an increasingly popular trend among parents without fertility issues is the use of IVF for a chance to decide the sex of a child.
According to The Wall Street Journal, about 1 in 5 couples going to HRC Fertility, a network of nine clinics in Southern California, have no problem getting pregnant but want a child of a specific sex.
"They usually have one, two or three children of one gender and want their next child to be of the other sex," said Daniel Potter, the medical director of HRC Fertility, wrote the Journal. "The growth part of our practice at this point is, in fact, the segment of the population that technically doesn't have fertility problems."
The practice is called family balancing, or nonmedical sex selection, and is done through testing referred to as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, often used to test for potential genetic diseases, the Journal reported. For sex selection, doctors use the test to check if the embryo is male or female after it is created through IVF, and only embryos of the desired sex are implanted.
However ideal this concept may seem to some couples with dreams of a boy or girl, it isn't cheap and many families are paying big bucks for what some experts are calling "designer babies." Rose Costa and her husband, parents of two boys, spent a total of $100,000 for a girl, after numerous attempts found that embryos were male and a miscarriage of a female, according to New York Post.
Additionally, Us Weekly claimed that celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose to have a boy through an IVF procedure she undertook to treat fertility issues, though the couple denies it, according to the Post.
"Whether or not the couple underwent the $15,000 to $25,000 process for IVF with sex selection, the speculation fueled the debate about whether the screening is ethically sound or a slippery slope toward designer babies," the Post reported.
The worry of some experts is of parents expressing sexism or a desire for complete control over their everything to do with their children. Others simply don't find it ethical to use a practice meant for one purpose for another some would consider selfish.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine hasn't taken a firm stance on sex selection and family balancing. Instead, they encourage doctors to set guidelines for their practices concerning the procedures for sex selection, reported Live Science.
"Some people are concerned that sex selection might represent a 'slippery slope' toward choosing other traits in children, like their eye color, height or intelligence," wrote Live Science.
But that line has already been crossed, said Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center.
"I think we are going to have an enormous debate in how far to go," he said of the future, wrote Live Science.
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