XX is for Girls and XY is for Boys

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on February 6, 2008

What would you say if I told you that biologists are working to make female cells turn into sperm and male cells turn into eggs? Perhaps you’d tell me I’ve been reading too much National Enquirer? Maybe you’d wonder if I am dyslexic. Or you could flat-out think I was crazy.

Well, it’s true. And as San Francisco-based patent analyst Greg Aharonian states that he’s pursuing the patent because he’s a “troublemaker” and wants to fuel the fiery debates over same-sex couple reproduction. As if we don’t have enough to debate about!

Of course this type of research is permissible in the U.S. because the IVF industry is largely unregulated. So, as I’ve said in the past, we have reached the reproductiv-medicine-gone-wild era where literally anything imaginable goes.

Last year, a regular criticism CBC received was why we stood so firmly against human cloning and embryo stem cell research while seemingly giving IVF a pass. After all, wasn’t it IVF that opened the floodgates to embryo and cloning research with the debate over those 500,000 leftover or surplus embryos? Wasn’t it the advancements in IVF technology that made all the embryo research in the lab possible?

So, privately, I would reply to those individuals who wondered about CBC’s stance on IVF that in fact CBC has been critical , has pointed out the problems with IVF, and has written much on the exploitation of women and has gone to great lengths to raise awareness on these matters. I am highly critical of current IVF practices and often lament. How do we get Pandora back in the box? But, perhaps I needed a more direct approach?

Let the record show that I understand the natural desire and longing to bear children and that infertility brings much heartache to couples facing this reality. But, what CBC stands for is the ethical solution to everyday real life problems. It is not just enough to solve, manage, ameliorate or alleviate problems. I’ve said frequently it’s not just about getting somewhere, but it is how we get there that is most important. Have we loved mercy and justice? Have we considered the least of these among us – or in the case of IVF, the least of these who will soon be among us?

Recent headlines confirm my social and ethical objections to IVF:

And a recent workshop held in Germany had this list of topics on their agenda to highlight my medical and safety criticisms of IVF:

  • Risk of oocyte pick-up- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: prediction, prevention and treatment
  • Risk of treatment failure: psychological consequences and quality of life
  • Vanishing twin, ectopic pregnancy, pregnancy loss and gestational disease after IVF
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Malformation in children after IVF
  • Prematurity, low birth weight and associated health risks

Here in the U.S., we have stopped doing any significant research in understanding and treating IVF since technologies have allowed us to circumvent the problem. We are full steam ahead with designing babies and treating them like commodities to be manufactured. I say, “Enough already!” But what do you say?

Previous post:

Next post: