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IVF: Choose Your Babies Hair, Eye and Skin Color Before You Ever Get Pregnant

Should life create science or science create life? Either way, humans must decide when and where the line in the sand will be drawn when it comes to reproductive technology.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) became a successful means of reproduction in 1978. Since then, it has become a feasible, although not necessarily affordable, method of pregnancy for people that have certain infertility problems or desire multiple births. IVF involves controlling and stimulating the ovulation process. The resulting eggs are then removed from the ovaries. The eggs will be fertilized in a Petri-dish or test tube. Once the egg is fertilized, it becomes a zygote, and it can then be transferred to the uterus for a pregnancy.

Reproductive Technology: How Far Is Too Far?

Opponents of IVF object to the unused zygotes being destroyed. They also object to the interference with the procreative purpose of marriage, donor eggs being used in postmenopausal women, and gender selection capabilities. Still, IVF is far from the hot button topic that abortion is. But, it has recently been thrust back into the headlines since the birth of eight babies using the IVF process. Nadya Suleman’s case is a prime example of the “how far is too far” question.

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As if IVF isn’t under enough scrutiny thanks to Nadya’s octuplets, now a few IVF clinics are considering using preimplantation genetic diagnosis to selectively choose physical traits. This procedure would allow a woman to select a babies hair color, skin tone, and eye color prior to the zygote being implanted.

Identification Of Genetic Disorders Before The Zygote Is Implanted

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a biopsy technique that was first successfully used in 1988. It is used in IVF to identify genetic defects in the created embryos such as: sex-linked disorders, single gene defects, and chromosomal disorders. Specific diseases like: Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, Huntington disease, X-linked dystrophies, mitochondrial disease, etc.. can all identified. In other words, if the parent(s) have a known genetic abnormality in their family, embryo testing can show if the embryo also carries the genetic abnormality. Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) are biopsy techniques used to screen for aneuploidy by determining the chromosomal constitution of embryos. Down syndrome can be identified with PGS. PGD and PGS mean that only the unaffected and healthy embryos are transferred to the uterus.

The place of PGD and PGS in reproductive medicine and society has been controversial since the start. But, using it for such trivial selective desires such as eye color, skin complexion, hair color, etc.. is about to explode the issue.

My Opinion…

I am the mother of a handicapped child that can not walk, talk, or even hold her own head up. She has been diagnosed with possible mitochondrial disease. Since the doctors can not isolate a specific mitochondrial defect using muscle biopsy, geneticists can not tell me if my potential future children would have a genetic disease. So, I am conflicted about the original usage of PGD and PGS. On one hand, it would allow me to have another child free from the suffering Kaitlynn has endured. On the other hand, I believe life begins when a sperm fertilizes an egg, and my conscious would not allow me to discard a formed genetically abnormal zygote. But, one thing I am sure about….discarding zygotes because they are not the preferred sex, eye color, hair color, skin complexion, etc.. is a gross misuse of science.

What Do You Think?

Where do we draw that ethical, socially acceptable, legal, and moral line in the sand- postmenopausal pregnancy; weed out genetic diseases; predetermine hair color, eye color and skin complexion; the selection of embryos for donor bone marrow to a family member; and/or gender selection?

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User Comments
  1. Mr Ghaz

    On March 5, 2009 at 4:54 am

    Excellent! That was cool.Very informative article. Must read. Thanks for sharing

  2. Joe Dorish

    On March 5, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Good or bad, looks like this is the future.

  3. Anthony513

    On March 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I think science may be going to far now interfereing with gods creations, sure it could solve some health problems but it could also lead to many big disasters like super viruses that we cant prevent and it comes and wipes out this race of super humans because they were made to have the best immune systems, and a foreign virus comes along and kills everyone.

  4. Lauren

    On March 5, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I was speaking about this with my Anatomy II professor,and he believes it’s inevitable. Very sad.

  5. valli

    On March 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Sorry to hear about your child. I dont know where science is heading! Taking Gods creations into our own hands is not good.


    On March 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Science is always beyond what we human can perceive. This is one case, how about scientist merges the Human DNA and the animal DNA? It’s scary to think about that. And we’re not sure what’ll happen to our community. If you can choose your babies hair, eye and skin Color before you ever get pregnant, I think this is unhealthy. It doesn’t show inheritance from both parents but a scientific byproduct instead.

  7. Ruby Hawk

    On March 5, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    It is such a hard decision to have to make. I don’t know what I would have done if I had a choice.We love our children regardless but I don’t know about knowingly bringing one in the world to suffer. I think anyone would have to be in that situation. I’m so sorry about your child and I wish you both the best possible.

  8. Anne Lyken Garner

    On March 6, 2009 at 4:38 am

    If people with disabled children are using this technology to ensure their future children are healthy, I could understand that. However, if this technology is *readily* available, many people WILL go as far as wanting to choose their baby’s hair colour etc.

    People have already cloned their pets. I know that this DOES NOT mean that they will want to clone their kids too. I’m just pointing this out as an example of the sort of thing people will do when the technology is relatively common and available to the public.

    I’m so sorry about your Kaitlyn, but I’m sure that this means you love her all the more.

  9. spaceview

    On March 6, 2009 at 7:15 am

    thought provoking

  10. Juanita

    On March 7, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Ok, then, don’t use any of this technology. Nobody’s forcing you to. Just don’t judge other people when they do. Other people’s personal choices (yes, having a baby is a private affair) is none of your business.

  11. Likha

    On March 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    It’s all a matter of choice, different strokes for different folks. With freedom of choice however, comes great responsibility not only to ourselves but to the the whole of humanity.

  12. 32 BarClay

    On March 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Altough I usually don’t agree with her, Anne Lyken has a point here. Examining further, would we be in danger of creating the “perfect race” if this technology becomes readily available?
    I don’t think, however, that it will happen. We do not, by any means, have a shortage of people living in the world and especially America. The government pays for thousands, (millions?) of “excess” healthy babies in the form of WIC (which I like), food stamps and child healthcare.
    I BELIEVE: Injectable birth control should be required, like a social security number, at the age of 10. (Yes, the increasingly obese population of young girls are starting their periods at around age 10!)
    Only after parental counseling, application and standardized testing, can the mom-to-be have her birth control taken out, only to be replaced at the hospital on the birth day of her child. Then, the mother’s financial and living situations can be reviewed of she wants another child and she can have her birth control taken out again.
    Our population is too high now to allow people to procrate at their own will. Too many bad parents, too-poor or those taking advantage of the welfare system out there.

  13. Juanita

    On March 25, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    To clarify, this technology selects from the parents’ available gene pool, so in ACTUALITY, it is indeed inheritance from both parents, as any one of the embryos selected for implantation could have been had naturally by the parents. For example, if you have genes for black and red hair, and your partner does too, then it is possible for you to have a black-haired or a red-haired child, and thus any embryo you select by pgd is a combination of both of your genes. Thus, there is nothing unnatural about this tech, only that it offers more certainty for the parents. I think it’s good for increasing human diversity, because there are very few natural blondes or green eyes, or redheads, whatever, also it’s the freedom of choice because people own their own genes…surely you can’t tell people that their genes are owned by the government??!

  14. Juanita

    On March 25, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Lastly, hair and eye color don’t help or hurt a person, because what color your hair is is not linked with your brain ability, as a lot of people have been saying. anyone can succeed, regardless of cosmetic features, so that’s why i believe this tech is nobody’s business, as it’s only cosmetic, and doesn’t give the children any tangible qualities, and thus doesn’t affect society…which, if you disagree with, means that you happen to find certain hair colors superior, which is a wrong way of thinking

  15. jo oliver

    On March 25, 2009 at 10:19 pm


    Thank you for your comments.

    The issue I was addressing was not about created features where they do not exist; that is for a completely different article. The issue surrounding this article was about a parent pre-selecting what their child’s hair, eye, skin, gender etc.. will be. Of course, if the egg and sperm are not from a donor, then all of the embryos would have features genetically passed from the IVF couple. That isn’t the argument!

    Where the problem, or “natural” vs. “unnatural” as you put it, comes in at is when the parent selectively look at all of their embryos and opt for one based on the hair, eye, skin, etc…. features that they want. There is nothing natural about that. Nature does not allow us to choose if we get pregnant with a boy, girl, blue eyed, brown eyed, red hair, brown hair, or pale, etc.. baby. This opens the door to discarding embryos based on other things that YOU might find unacceptable- IQ for example.

    You are right to say this is about certainty… is about making certain you end up with the —eyed baby instead of the —eyed baby.

    Having this power is not a freedom of choice. Parents do not have the right to selectively destroy embryos based on such trivial matters as hair color. No one is telling a parent what to do with their genes or that the government owns their genes. Freedom of choice only goes so far. For ex, would it be freedom of choice for the parent to kill their baby at birth if the skin, hair, and eye color wasn’t desired? I don’t think so. So, why is it okay for a parent to kill an embryo simply because it doesn’t have the desired features?

    I don’t really understand your last comment at all? The parents that would choose an embryo based on hair color….now those are the people that think one hair color is superior. Opponents simply want to allow nature to take it’s course and let all hair colors have the exact same chance at survival.

  16. C. S. Robins

    On March 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Very glad I found this…I have been wondering about this for a while…not to pick a child’s characteristics and features but their gender. I cannot raise girls. I am sorry to hear about your daughter. In the “my opinion” paragraph, I would have liked to read a few more pros and cons of IVF. It gets the reader thinking and more conflicted, causing them to want to take a stand themselves one way or the other

  17. Annoymous

    On April 2, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    this is what make humans the smarter animal. i believe in science and if a couple decides they want a particular trait in their child,kudos! am for it and we as a society need to stop being close minded and allow science to work its magic. Protagonist of gene selection are just upset that they don’t/didn’t have the opportunity to select their children genetic traits. Get over it! Many advancement in science has save many lives and to hell with the haters.

  18. Donna-marie turvey

    On July 9, 2009 at 3:15 am

    i want sex but im tooo ugly to get a boy friend
    help meeeeeeeeeeeeeee//////

  19. lily mcbathtt

    On July 9, 2009 at 6:59 am

    LOVE THIS WEB!!!!!!!

    me and my boyfriend are tryin for a baby but i dont lyk some of his characteristics

  20. Kaylie

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:01 am

    hi thanks for advice
    this web is cool but isn’t it kinda unnatural if you use computer or sumink else for the baby just to get it the way u lyk it!?

  21. Katie

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:02 am



    thanks for tha help!! x

  22. Joe

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:07 am

    thanks for advice


    thanks for tha help!! x

  23. linda. A

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:08 am

    this website has really helped me out
    thank you so much
    questions have finally been answered

  24. anna-lee.p.

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:10 am

    thankyou so much me and my husband are trying for a baby and this is really cool!!!!

  25. Infomation foir you

    On July 9, 2009 at 7:11 am

    The term in vitro, from the [Latin] root meaning within the glass, is used, because early biological experiments involving cultivation of tissues outside the living organism from which they came, were carried out in glass containers such as beakers, test tubes, or petri dishes. Today, the term in vitro is used to refer to any biological procedure that is performed outside the organism it would normally be occurring in, to distinguish it from an in vivo procedure, where the tissue remains inside the living organism within which it is normally found. A colloquial term for babies conceived as the result of IVF, test tube babies, refers to the tube-shaped containers of glass or plastic resin, called test tubes, that are commonly used in chemistry labs and biology labs. However, in vitro fertilisation is usually performed in the shallower containers called Petri dishes. (Petri-dishes may also be made of plastic resins.) However, the IVF method of Autologous Endometrial Coculture is actually performed on organic material, but is yet called in vitro. This is used when parents are having infertility problems or they want to have multiple births.

  26. helen

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:09 am


  27. tanya

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:11 am

    i love babies

  28. paige

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:12 am

    i defintly think its unatral

  29. sue

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:14 am



  30. fred

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:15 am


  31. tom

    On July 9, 2009 at 10:16 am


  32. Bruce

    On July 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Life begins before fertilization. Both the sperm and ovum are living cells. The cells don’t create a human being until some development has occurred. Undifferentiated stem cells are not a human being.

    Something is immoral if it is done when known to cause some kind of suffering, within reason. But preventing the development of a human being causes no kind of suffering to the group of stem cells.

    Therefore IVF is not immoral.

  33. Jaye

    On September 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I think that it’s alright if someone wants to choose the traits of their baby(ies)’s eye, skin, hair, etc. Why would we develop it if it wasn’t meant to be used? I know there’s the “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” thing, but it’s not like it’s hurting anyone. I personally have hated my eyes all my life and I’d love to be able to change it so that my baby has more interesting eyes. It’s not about superiority or one set of traits being better than the other. It’s not about “playing god” or anything like that. It’s about using the techniques that we’ve developed to lead happier lives.

  34. A parent

    On September 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I totally agree with many of the comments but would like to add that the world has 7 billion people, which is about 5 billion more than the world can sustain if we want everyone to be able to use natural resources the way those in the first world do. (Certainly we want everyone on earth to have a “good” life.) It is high time we be more “selective” about the people of the future. Doesn’t every parent want their child to be better off than themselves? I know I want that for my children. Lets make the future a better place for all and lets make better people!

  35. A parent

    On September 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I totally agree with many of the comments but would like to add that the world has 7 billion people, which is about 5 billion more than the world can sustain if we want everyone to be able to use natural resources the way those in the first world do. (Certainly we want everyone on earth to have a \”good\” life.) It is high time we be more \”selective\” about the people of the future. Doesn\’t every parent want their child to be better off than themselves? I know I want that for my children. Lets make the future a better place for all and lets make better people!

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