Op-Ed

Sperm fertilizing an egg

Given the U.S. fertility industry's longstanding resistance to effective oversight, the field's two recent controversies - first octuplets, then an offer of embryo screening for cosmetic traits - shouldn't really come as a surprise. What was remarkable about the reaction they evoked from knowledgeable observers, in fact, was the chorus of agreement that it's time to leave the "Wild West" days of assisted reproduction behind.

The octuplets story turned many of us into reluctant voyeurs, fascinated by the daily dribble of details. Fortunately, at least some of the media attention soon turned away from the unsettling details about the babies' mother and focused instead on the fertility doctor involved. We soon learned that Michael Kamrava had not only transferred six embryos - two of which divided into twins - into the octuplets' mother, but had also recently put seven embryos into another woman who wanted only one child, leaving her pregnant with quadruplets.

The industry that had tolerated such irresponsible medical conduct also came under much-needed scrutiny. Many people were surprised to learn that the multibillion dollar American fertility industry...