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Can you pick your children?
A couple holding hands.You and your husband have been trying to have a baby for years. After three miscarriages, your doctor refers you to an infertility specialist, who recommends in vitro fertilization ("in vitro" is Latin for "in dish," as opposed to "in vivo," or "in body"). IVF involves fertilizing your eggs with your husband's sperm in a petri dish and then transferring some of the resulting embryos—genetically related to both of you—into your womb.

You decide to do IVF, and you and your husband, with the help of the lab, successfully create eight embryos. After a few days, the embryos are ready to be transferred to your uterus where, hopefully, at least one will implant and grow to a healthy baby. The time comes for your doctor to choose the embryos for transfer. Because of the risk of multiple births, the doctor will select and transfer no more than three from the eight you have created.

It is now possible to determine the gender of an embryo before it is transferred to your womb. Should you be allowed to direct your doctor to select embryos on the basis of their sex?
Clicking on "yes" or "no" will move you to the next page. You will have a chance to reconsider your answer when you get to the end of the case and have explored some of the ramifications of your decision, but you cannot click back!
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Context

Sex selection for non-medical reasons, often in the form of infanticide (the killing of born children), has been practiced for centuries and continues in countries like China and India, where great value is put on the birth of a son. Both China and India have banned the use of ultrasounds for the purpose of sex selection, but ultrasound use is reportedly still widespread. The male-to-female ratio has risen to 1.2 males for every female in China and some urban parts of India. By the year 2010, China's male population between the ages of 15 and 44 is projected to outnumber females by 19.6 million.


Can you pick your children?
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Did you know?
Infertility Facts and Figures
  • Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected sex.
  • Roughly one out of every eight couples has fertility problems.
  • Since 1978, when the first so-called "test tube baby," Louise Brown, was born in Britain, more than one million IVF babies have been born worldwide.