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Biotech Medicine

Fertility Clinic Bows To Pressure, Nixes Eye- and Hair-Color Screening 847

destinyland writes "A fertility service in L.A. and New York screens embryos for breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and 70 other diseases — and lets couples pick the sex of their babies. But when their pre-implantation diagnostic services began including the baby's eye and hair color, even the Pope objected — and the Great Designer Baby Controversy began. '[W]e cannot escape the fact that science is moving forward,' the fertility service explained — before capitulating to pressure to eliminate the eye and hair color screenings."
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Fertility Clinic Bows To Pressure, Nixes Eye- and Hair-Color Screening

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  • and is unfortunately still prevalent in india, china, and korea, and immigrant communities from india, china, and korea []

    they should outlaw sex selection. an absolutely disgusting practice

  • Re:I don't get it... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:38AM (#28348201)

    If you could simply manufacture a child to your specifications, there might be less complaint. But it doesn't work like this. The clinic fertilises a number of eggs, then kills the embryos that don't match the specification. Some people find this objectionable.

    But this approach will quickly fail anyway. As the number of things we can test for genetically multiplies, it won't be possible to create enough embryos to produce one that happens to have the "perfect" DNA from both mom and dad.

  • by sed quid in infernos ( 1167989 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:55AM (#28348427)
    Don't be deceived by the summary. The Pope doesn't approve of destroying embryos because they have diseases (or predispositions to diseases) or because of their sex, either. "But when their pre-implantation diagnostic services began including the baby's eye and hair color, even the Pope objected" is highly misleading regarding the Pope's line-drawing on this subject.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:58AM (#28348469)

    But I believe that the time-tested natural selection is more reliable when it comes to the survival of our species.

    It's random... and you conveintly forget babies that die almost immediately because of some genetic flaw or those born with MS, Downs, etc. Natural selection isn't chosing anything.. it's random, and unlike humans, doesn't care if the result will work or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:00PM (#28348493)

    Are there any records of (other) animals in nature, namely mothers, culling off her weaker children? Here are three examples.

    Askmen Top 10 Bad Animal Kingdom Mothers []


    Any cubs of less than 2 years old are killed by the male to stop any future rivals challenging him for the pride, and also to encourage the lionesses to go into heat, allowing him to begin his own dynasty. The lionesses allow this to happen -- a cruel edge to their mothering nature.

    Black Bears:

    Black bears like to have litters of two or three cubs, as it takes a similar amount of effort to raise one cub as it does three. Because of this, it has been documented that if a black bear gives birth to just one cub, she will sometimes simply abandon it and will hope for a larger litter the following year. Unlike many animals that may abandon young which are sick or weak, the bear will abandon the youngster simply for being on its own.

    African Black Eagle:

    The African Black Eagle usually lays two eggs, although one is generally no more than an insurance policy. The idea of an insurance policy is quite common in the animal kingdom, but it is the manner in which the unwanted young is disposed of which is particularly shocking. The mother will feed only one chick, and as it grows stronger it will peck its weaker sibling to death. What is especially gruesome about this is that the mother will look on impassively as her youngster is dispatched.

    In hindsight, aborting a potential human in the womb seems a lot less brutal.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:07PM (#28348609)

    through out history there are groups of people just like that. Nazi's,(insert race) supremeists, etc that try or desire to limit humans to one hair, skin, eye color combos which they view as superior. This is well documented. We need our diversity. It is a major part of us. With out it we are far weaker.

  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:11PM (#28348685)

    Steven Hawkings probably would have been screened out of existence

    Actually Stephen Hawking suffers from adult-onset ALS [], so he likely would not have been screened out of existence even if the technology existed ... especially since no definitive cause [] for ALS has been established, though DNA defects have not been ruled out.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:14PM (#28348733) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    The backlash was widespread. Quoted in the New York Daily News on February 23, the Pope himself condemned the âoeobsessive search for the perfect child.â The pontiff complained, âoeA new mentality is creeping in that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity.â The roman Catholic Church objects to all applications of PGD because they invariably involve the destruction of blastocysts.

    He objects to the disease resistance and sex choosing too, so mentioning him in the summary makes no sense IMO. I don't think Popes are usually known for their liberal viewpoints. An equally as pointless but slightly more sensible line would have been "The Pope objects, as usual".

  • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

    by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:15PM (#28348757)

    I'm not sure if this is just silly or borderline nazi, but I don't like it.

    I made my children the usual way, by fucking and waiting. And they look like me. And I like them the way they are. Sure, they have their quirks, but who doesn't?

    If you can't breed children, adopt some. There's no lack of children in the planet.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:25PM (#28348979)
    How does that have anything to do with the GP's post? He wasn't arguing one way or another on the basis of sexuality, he was giving a hypothetical. Last I checked, homosexuals are not asking for government handouts, at least, not more than the complement population.
  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:36PM (#28349157) Homepage

    Nor would Hellen Keller who was blinded and deafened by (probably) Scarlet Fever in early childhood (around 18 months old). No one is certain what the disease was, but it certainly afflicted her well after birth.

  • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:10PM (#28349773)

    Maybe in China, but not in Scandinavia, my point was actually that in different places different genders are preferred since it is commonly known that in certain countries male children are preferred, I felt it would make sense to point out that in other places it is very likely that female children would be preferred.


  • Re:I don't get it... (Score:4, Informative)

    by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:10PM (#28349775) Journal

    Wrong. In fact, nurture seems to have more to do with IQ than nature. []

    Understand, this is a change of 2 standard deviations in IQ.

    Also, []
    Contrary to what you might expect, for those children, the I.Q.â(TM)s of identical twins vary just as much as the I.Q.â(TM)s of fraternal twins. The impact of growing up impoverished overwhelms these childrenâ(TM)s genetic capacities. In other words, home life is the critical factor for youngsters at the bottom of the economic barrel.

    There's a recent article on newer studies, but I can't seem to locate it.

  • Re:Ad disability (Score:3, Informative)

    by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:17PM (#28349933) Homepage

    You must have missed that part of the film, such screenings were illegal but were done anyway, probably like a lot of our anti-discrimination laws.

  • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:22PM (#28350025)

    Ever consider those who are not able to produce because of some "after-market" problem? Not all fertility problems are a result of genetic deficiencies. Sometimes the occur as part of the environment.

    I know the above seems harsh, but it is a risk that I have been watching with some consternation since the first "test-tube" baby was born in the 1970s. Since then there seems to be an explosion of people, who otherwise could not conceive, pushing out quadruplets, quintuplets, and more, all the while depleting the gene-pool.

    Those multi-births only occur because many fertilized embryos are placed in the host as a precaution against those that do not survive the process. I am sure as the technology progresses the need for multiple IVFs will decrease, abating your concerns purely upon technological reasons. That aside, considering how diverse the gene pool is, we shouldn't consider a rare multi-birth a threat to its dilution.

    I imagine that someday a person who is hurt in a way that robs them of the ability to normally reproduce would be able to take a simple DNA sample and IVF them a child. Not a clone, mind you, but creating gametes from DNA samples to create offspring.

  • by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:27PM (#28350129)

    Your comparison to cousin marriage is inaccurate. First cousin marriages have been common in most societies until the last couple centuries (and still very common for more than half of the world's population). They have only a marginally higher rate of birth defects.

    Sibling marriages OTOH....

  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:32PM (#28350219) Homepage

    See also: Idiocracy (film).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:13PM (#28352785)

    Alternatively, if everyone is shooting the large bucks, the smaller bucks will be the ones with more time to impregnate the does. I seem to recall an article on /. not too long ago about this very idea, except it related to fish (people fished for the largest fish, which made being a small fish a more desirable trait).

    Posting anon because I've been moderating this discussion.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun