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For Immediate Release: March 4th, 2009
Contact:  Marcy Darnovsky, 1-510-625-0819 x305, mdarnovsky[AT]geneticsandsociety[DOT]org

Public interest group responds to postponement of "designer baby" service

Center for Genetics and Society calls for federal oversight, hearings

The following statement can be attributed to Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, Associate Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society:

"As advocates of responsible uses of reproductive and genetic technologies, we are encouraged by the near unanimous condemnation of an offer to use an embryo screening technique to select the hair color, eye color, and complexion of future children. Many fertility practitioners and bioethicists agree that the advertised service by a southern California clinic crossed a dangerous line.

"We are also encouraged that the fertility clinic in question has suspended its offer, at least for now. Its announcement cites 'negative societal impacts' as a key reason to proceed no further.

"Despite the suspension of this program, the absence of fertility industry oversight is a real problem. This and other recent incidents highlight the need for Congressional hearings and for federal oversight of the fertility industry, which remains virtually free of enforceable constraints.

"It’s important that regulation of the fertility industry not be left to those seeking to undermine reproductive rights. Regulation must be aimed not at women’s bodies, but at the multi-billion dollar baby business.

"Following the birth of octuplets, it was revealed that the industry’s voluntary guidelines on the transfer of embryos into women’s bodies are violated by at least four out of five clinics. In California, that number is over 90%. Currently, there are no meaningful sanctions for such transgressions.

"Like the financial industry, the fertility industry has shown that it is incapable of regulating itself. It’s time to establish basic rules of the road."

The Center for Genetics and Society is a non-profit public affairs and policy advocacy organization working to encourage responsible uses and effective societal governance of human genetic and reproductive biotechnologies.


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