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

  • 'Infowars' host Alex Jones loses custody battle

    Entertainment CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas -- A jury has stripped right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of having primary custody of his children and awarded joint custody to his ex-wife. The Austin American-Statesman reports that state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo also announced Kelly Jones will decide where their three children will live. Source
  • Classified wins ECMA Song of Year for Snoop Dogg collaboration

    Entertainment CTV News
    SAINT JOHN, N.B. - A fun collaboration with Snoop Dogg called "No Pressure" rewarded Classified with the Song of the Year award Thursday night at the annual East Coast Music Awards. The rapper, from Enfield, N.S. Source
  • Acadian rockers, favourite folkies rule East Coast Music Awards

    Entertainment CBC News
    A mix of old favourites and brash newcomers took home the honours at the East Coast Music Awards gala on Thursday night in Saint John. For the third year in a row, the gala was held at the start of the annual event, a move that organizers say spreads the festivities over several days. Source
  • Scarlett Johansson wants to meet 72-year-old doppelganger

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Scarlett Johansson is keen to meet a 72-year-old woman who was her spitting image 50 years ago. Last week, a user on the content sharing website Reddit posted a photo of his grandmother, Geraldine, at the age of 22, and noted she was once looked strikingly similar to the Avengers star. Source
  • Documentary captures genius behind Canadian architectural marvel

    Entertainment CTV News
    Integral House is undeniably an architectural marvel. Nestled in a canopied ravine in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, the home’s alluring curved walls and sweeping open spaces make it one of Canada’s most unique private residences. But the story behind Integral House, captured in the documentary “Integral Man,” may rival its striking beauty. Source
  • Portrayal of Michael Jackson 'should not have been axed': Joseph Fiennes

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actor Joseph Fiennes has defended his portrayal of Michael Jackson in the cancelled Urban Myths, insisting the project was no worse than the comedy skits on U.S. TV show Saturday Night Live. Fiennes’ casting as the King of Pop in the show upset members of Jackson’s family and fans and the Sky Arts programme, which imagined a drive the Thriller singer took with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando back to Los Angeles from New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was eventually axed amid…
  • Mike Myers working on ideas for fourth 'Austin Powers' flick

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Mike Myers and director Jay Roach are working on concepts for a fourth Austin Powers movie. The comedy trilogy surrounding the quirky 1960s spy, portrayed by Myers, has been a huge hit and the filmmaking duo insist there’s always a possibility they will regroup for another adventure - if a good idea presents itself. Source
  • Nintendo sells 2.74 million Switch consoles, trims quarterly losses

    Entertainment CBC News
    Nintendo Co.'s Switch, a new hybrid game machine that works as both a console and a tablet, is selling well, helping the Kyoto-based company behind the Super Mario and Pokemon franchises trim its quarterly losses. Nintendo said Thursday it has sold 2.74 million Switch machines and 5.46 million units of Switch software since sales began in March. Source
  • 'Bachelor' star Chris Soules acted reasonably after crash, legal team says

    Entertainment CTV News
    This Tuesday, April 25, 2017, photo provided by the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office in Independence, Iowa, shows Chris Soules, former star of ABC's "The Bachelor," after being booked early Tuesday after his arrest on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident near Arlington, Iowa. Source
  • Bella Thorne Snapchats her bikini wax

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Bella Thorne has shared her first bikini waxing session online. The 19-year-old posted footage of herself getting her summer groom on via Snapchat this week. Fans watched as she sat on a white towel with a pair of scissors in her right hand, apparently trimming her pubic hair, ahead of the waxing session with a beautician. Source