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

  • AP: Grammy country committee rejected Beyonce's 'Daddy Lessons'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Beyonce earned a whopping nine Grammy nominations Tuesday, including best rock performance, but the singer's twangy song "Daddy Lessons" was rejected by the Recording Academy's country music committee. A person familiar with the Grammy nomination process told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Beyonce submitted "Daddy Lessons" -- from her album "Lemonade" -- to the country category. Source
  • Sia separates from husband Erik Anders Lang

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Grammy-nominated singer Sia and her filmmaker-husband, Erik Anders Lang, are separating. In a statement released through a spokesperson Wednesday, Sia and Lang said "after much soul searching and consideration we have made the decision to separate as a couple. Source
  • Sia and filmmaker-husband Erik Anders Lang separate

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Grammy-nominated singer Sia and her filmmaker-husband, Erik Anders Lang, are separating. In a statement released through a spokesperson Wednesday, Sia and Lang said “after much soul searching and consideration we have made the decision to separate as a couple. Source
  • Russell Crowe will not face charges over Azealia Banks altercation

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Russell Crowe will not face charges over his altercation with rapper Azealia Banks. The 212 star accused the actor of spitting on her, calling her derogatory names and carrying her out of his hotel suite in Beverly Hills following an incident at a dinner party in October, and when the Oscar winner refused to apologize, she filed a police report. Source
  • Johnny Depp named most overpaid actor in Hollywood

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Johnny Depp has ended 2016 on another low note after he was named and shamed as the most overpaid actor in Hollywood for a second consecutive year. Fresh off his bitter divorce from actress Amber Heard, the Pirates of the Caribbean star has topped the annual Forbes poll, thanks to the lacklustre returns from his most recent releases, including the blockbuster Alice Through the Looking Glass. Source
  • Review: Ebullient 'La La Land' is something to sing about

    Entertainment CTV News
    Musical lovers, take a bow. Your favourite art form is having quite the cultural moment. On Broadway, of course, we've got the "Hamilton" phenomenon, making the stage musical feel more vital and relevant than it has in years. Source
  • Judge refuses Brad Pitt's request to seal custody filings

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A judge on Wednesday rejected Brad Pitt's request to seal details about custody arrangements in his divorce from Angelina Jolie Pitt. Los Angeles Superior Court Richard J. Burdge Jr. denied Pitt's request in a brief written order that states the filing did not meet the requirements for sealing details at this time. Source
  • 'Miss Sloane' director John Madden on filming U.S. gun control drama in Canada

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- In making a thriller with the issue of U.S. gun control at its core, British director John Madden says he felt at home filming "Miss Sloane" in Canada. In theatres Friday, the film stars Jessica Chastain as a powerful and cutthroat lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Source
  • Brooke Shields' gift list sweetens sales for Vermont syrup

    Entertainment CTV News
    BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- Brooke Shields' gift list is sweetening a Vermont family farm's sale of maple syrup. The 109-year-old Robb Family Farm in Brattleboro says it's seen a 60 per cent jump in sales since the actress listed the syrup among her 12 best holiday gifts for women. Source
  • Auction of Shirley Temple items includes childhood tap shoes

    Entertainment CTV News
    DALLAS -- Two pairs of tap shoes belonging to the child movie star Shirley Temple have sold at auction for $20,000. Heritage Auctions says a diamond ring given to the child who sang and danced her way into moviegoers' hearts by her father fetched $137,500. Source