The advancement of medical technology has encroached upon every aspect of our healthcare system and delivery, yet probably the most sensitive area it has impacted has been our methods of reproduction. Due to the illicit (or at least discrete) nature of conception means, along with the sanctity we hold towards pregnancy and babies, any "development" of reproductive techniques automatically receives social and moral attention. From assisted reproductive technology (ART) to abortion, the relationship between medicine, technology and child-bearing facilitates a great deal of ethical evaluation. One of the most recent technological advancements, the practice of gender selection through Microsort, reveals an aspect of reproductive choice that could possibly lead to dramatic shifts in how we "conceive" children. Microsort is a first step towards allowing us to truly select characteristics of our children based on our personal desires. Although Microsort breaks medical and technological boundaries, it also raises social and ethical concerns. Especially in America, we take great pride in our personal autonomy and liberty, but is it ethical to apply our freedom of choice to the creation of another life? Do our personal desires alone justify the appropriateness of Microsort selection?
[...] Microsort then plays the role of bridging the gap between their hopes and the reality of the gender they desire. Those who fear what might become of Microsort preach about the “slippery slope” of eugenics, and how choosing the gender of one's child will surely lead to choosing other characteristics as we strive for a race of perfect children. Certainly the notion that technology breeds technology should be paid attention to in ethical evaluations, but there is a more pressing ethical concern that stems from Microsort practice. [...]
[...] Broadening beyond the individual ethical consequences, there is an intense ethical concern for the overall social implications of Microsort. Dr. Mark Hughes, a respected ART authority, expresses his concerns by pointing out that “gender [isn't] a disease. There is no illness, no suffering, and no reason for a physician to be involved” (Kalb 2). His opinion does not stand alone- Microsort has drawn a strong and consistent drone of ethical concerns, eventually leading to the full review of the Microsort program by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's (ASRM) ethics committee. [...]
[...] Yet the principle of gender selection raises intense ethical issues, and presents potentially dramatic and negative social consequences. Purtilo advises that ethics be systematic reflection on morality [ . ] because it consciously calls into question assumptions about existing components of moralities [ . ] of habits, customs, or traditions” (Purtilo 12). Through my ethical (systematic) evaluation, I have come across aspects of Microsort I support and qualities I find potentially unethical. A clear conclusion is tough to establish, but judging from the popular success of Microsort so far, one can realistically ascertain that its continued use will only increase. [...]
[...] a specific Microsort clinic (with another one in progress in California), where they are conducting the practice in the form of clinical trials. Since Microsort is not a drug, it does not need to be approved by the FDA, but GIVF is conducting the clinical trial in order to have Microsort approved by their Institutional Review Board. Once approved, the developers of the method plan on sublicensing the technology to fertility clinics throughout the country. They predict that the prevalence of Microsort use will be extremely high and “'as common as the number of people who desire to use it'” (Belkin). [...]
[...] If Microsort develops into a common feature of reproductive behavior, and the majority of families choose to follow the older (dominant) brother trend, we will essentially begin raising a nation of “little sisters” who already lack authority before they even grow up to enter into productive society. Even though our country is responsible enough to prevent any dangerous “slippery slope,” Microsort technology still bears the probability of negatively affecting our gender roles. ASRM also discusses their logistical arguments involving Microsort. [...]
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