The recent birth of in vitro fertilized octuplets to Nadya Suleman, a Whittier woman, sent jaws dropping all over the world. Before long, another southern California controversy emerged: The Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles last month announced plans to not only screen in vitro fertilized embryos for gender, but also for eye and hair color.

Both events prompted widespread public concern and condemnation. Most fertility specialists expressed dismay about the irresponsibility of Michael Kamrava, the Beverly Hills doctor who helped create the eight-baby pregnancy. And outrage about the "designer-baby service" prompted The Fertility Institutes to suspend its offer, at least for now.

Millions of people have formed families through assisted reproduction, and its appropriate uses should be accessible. But, as the birth of Suleman's octuplets and The Fertility Institutes' "designer-baby" program demonstrate, assisted reproduction techniques can be terribly abused.

Multiple births -- even triplets and twins -- put mothers and babies at much greater risk than single births. Pre-ordering the sex or cosmetic traits of a child is a recipe for family discord and societal conflict. If parents pay a... see more