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It’s strange to imagine, but sometime in the near future it may be possible for parents to prevent their baby girls from being lesbians. A recent article in Newsweek titled “The Anti-Lesbian Drug” explores the controversy over a steroid that theoretically can influence the development of a female fetus and cause her to grow up to be more of a girly-girl, to embrace motherhood and even to reject traditionally masculine careers.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction. In fact, dexamethasone, the chemical in question, is currently used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to lung development in preemies. More controversially, it has been prescribed to pregnant women carrying female fetuses who are at risk of a very rare genetic condition, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which can result in genitalia that appear more masculine than feminine.
But could dexamethasone also shape a child’s sexuality and manner of dress? The Newsweek article discusses the concerns of bioethicist Alice Dreger of Northwestern University and others who worry that doctors and parents may attempt further unapproved use of the steroid to prevent babies from developing into lesbians, or even women with deep voices.
Although it’s a leap to imagine this actually happening, the mere possibility has caused a fierce debate in the blogosphere. Should science be used to correct what some parents see as abnormalities in their unborn babies?
Doctors already use genetic testing to determine healthy fetuses from malformed ones. An estimated 92 percent of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies, according to research conducted at Children’s Hospital Boston. Still, a genetic defect isn’t the same thing as homosexuality. Even if a baby is born gay or lesbian, it isn’t an illness or a handicap. Yes, a lesbian girl may face more challenges in life than her straight sisters, but so do redheads.
How far do you think science should go to create the “perfect” baby? Chime in below!
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