Chrissy Teigen's choice of female embryo re-sparks sex selection debate

TORONTO -- American model and TV host Chrissy Teigen has faced criticism after disclosing her personal decision to hand-pick a female embryo during in-vitro fertilization.

See Full Article

The wife of singer-songwriter John Legend told People Magazine she was excited at the thought of seeing her husband with a little girl, adding that he "deserves that bond" and that "a boy will come along."

Canadian law bans any procedures that "would ensure or increase the probability that an embryo will be of a particular sex, or that would identify the sex of an in vitro embryo," except for preventing, diagnosing or treating sex-linked disorders or diseases, like hemophilia.

Not so in the U.S., and fertility clinics have opened their doors to international patients seeking to predetermine the sex of their babies.

Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, founder of the Fertility Institutes, said the overwhelming majority of Canadians visiting their clinics opt for sex selection, which costs around US$17,000. The average Canadian couple is in their mid-30s with three kids of the same sex and is looking to "balance their family," he added.

"I think the biggest misconception is that we're making boys or making girls -- and we absolutely are not," said Steinberg, whose clinics operate in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico.

"Couples make their own boys and girls. All we're doing is we're taking a look genetically at what we've made and giving them that information so that they can make their own decisions."

While sex-selection techniques like pairing IVF with embryo testing aren't new, the practice continues to raise questions about the ethics and reasoning behind pursuing such a procedure.

A 2011 joint statement from international agencies including UNICEF and the World Health Organization stated that while sex selection is sometimes used for family balancing, it "far more typically occurs because of a systematic preference for boys."

The statement reinforced the need for protecting the rights of girls and women, and to address the multiple ways in which gender discrimination manifests, "including the problem of imbalanced sex ratios caused by sex selection."

"Some people would say it's the thin edge of the wedge towards designer babies, where it's not whether you want a baby or not: it's what kind of baby you want," said Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto.

"That's what many people feel is creeping into this conversation -- and sex is part of that."

Toronto-based fertility law lawyer Sara Cohen said she occasionally encounters people who are upset that sex selection isn't available in Canada, and most of the time, they'll go to the U.S. But she said there are far greater concerns when it comes to reproductive technologies, like illegalizing payments to surrogate mothers, sperm and egg donors.

"(Sex selection is) part of the piece of the puzzle ... but in Canada we've got way bigger fish to fry," said Cohen.

"I think it's a huge problem with allowing people to choose what they do with their body, and we're really involved in ways that I personally think are inappropriate. Our legislation is involved in reproductive freedom, to some extent, and criminalizes choices that people could make."

Dr. Joel Batzofin, founder of New York Fertility Services, acknowledged that while sex selection is controversial in some circles, he doesn't believe those who opt for the procedure should be criticized.

"They're not interfering with anyone. It's their life to live. We are doing this ethically. The technology's available.

"We do not get involved in other things like (selecting) eye colour, hair colour stuff like that. There are people that do, but we don't go to that place."

Alana Cattapan, a postdoctoral fellow in the faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said she's argued against sex selection for two reasons: the inequalities that still exist between men and women, and the reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

"You expect the people who have certain kinds of chromosomes to behave a certain way throughout their entire life, and you're unwilling to miss out on the experiences that you assume that those children will bring to your life," said Cattapan.

"I just think that is reinforcing stereotypes about how people will behave -- or how everyone should behave -- in relation to their chromosomal makeup.... In a society where we're constantly telling children that they can be whatever they want to be, it's so strange that we try to attach certain ideas of who they're going to be to their embryos even before they exist."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Massachusetts Cultural Council urges museum to stop art sale

    Entertainment CTV News
    PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Cultural Council is the latest organization to come out against a Pittsfield museum's plan to sell 40 works of art including two by Norman Rockwell. An independent analysis by the state agency concludes that the Berkshire Museum is not in dire financial straits as it contends. Source
  • Never say never: Shania Twain finds new voice after illness

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- After becoming a global icon and one of the world's bestselling singers of all-time, Shania Twain had to utter the scariest five words a vocalist would ever hear: "I may never sing again. Source
  • B.C. filmmaker uses false name to promote policy charging more to white males

    Entertainment CTV News
    VICTORIA -- A man behind a "justice-pricing" policy based on charging higher admission to white males attending the screening of his movie says he used a false name to promote it because he was concerned about a backlash that could risk his safety. Source
  • Jimmy Kimmel ramps up battle against GOP health care bill

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Jimmy Kimmel used his late-night platform to continue his assault on the GOP health care bill, firing back at critics including U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade. Source
  • Fergie says she and Josh Duhamel still 'great friends'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Fergie says even though she and husband Josh Duhamel are splitting up they're still "great friends" who love one another and their young son. The singer talked about her marriage Wednesday at a screening for her new visual album, "Double Dutchess," at iPic Theaters Fulton Market. Source
  • Bernie Casey, pro football player turned actor, dead at 78

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Bernie Casey, a professional football player turned poet, painter and actor known for parts in films such as "Revenge of the Nerds" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," has died. He was 78. Source
  • 'Breakfast Club' actor Anthony Michael Hall pleads no contest to assault

    Entertainment CTV News
    Anthony Michael Hall and his wife, Ashley, arrive at the premiere of the film 'U2 3D' at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008. (AP / Amy Sancetta) Source
  • At 82, Judi Dench remains committed to learning about new roles

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Judi Dench is not tired. "I've had one of those pep-up drinks," Dench, beaming as she sits down for a recent interview. "I feel rather sparky." Caffeinated or not, Dench, 82, remains fully energized. Source
  • Anthony Michael Hall gets probation for assault conviction

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Breakfast Club star Anthony Michael Hall has been convicted of assaulting a neighbour. The actor pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour assault in Los Angeles on Wednesday and was sentenced to three years of probation. Hall will also have to serve 40 hours of community service. Source
  • NFLer-turned-actor Bernie Casey dead at 78

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — Bernie Casey, a professional football player turned actor known for parts in Revenge of the Nerds and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, has died. His talent agent Erin Connor says Casey died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness. Source