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Eugenic Expectations: The Reality of Getting What You Want

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National Institutes of Health
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  1. The theory of Microsort stems from a similar practice used for cattle
  2. The science of Microsort began with a particular motive
  3. One of the first questions asked to any expecting or recently ?delivered? couple is the sex of their baby.
  4. Those who fear what might become of Microsort preach about the ?slippery slope? of eugenics
  5. ASRM's concerns with the greater social implications of Microsort center around gender discrimination and bias
  6. Biggest arguments against Microsort is that it will psychologically harm the children produced from the technology

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. [...]


[...] ASRM agrees that we should give parents the benefit of the doubt, especially if they already have children (which the program currently requires), yet discusses the welfare of the child as an ethical aspect that should be carefully monitored as the technology advances in social popularity. Beyond the practicalities and policies of the practice, we must also give attention to the basic principle of gender selection. Religious communities (Catholicism in particular) offer their ethical perceptions of gender selection, and as religion is such a strong component of our social life, their opinions should not be overlooked. [...]

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