Monday, August 16, 2010

Breaking Taboo Lead Story - Engineering the perfect baby while preventing lesbianism?

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, (CAH), is a condition that causes overproduction of male hormones in the womb and girls who are affected tend to have slightly enlarged genitals, though internal sex organs are normal. In boys, the condition leads to early signs of puberty, such as deep voice, body hair and enlarged penis by age 2 or 3.

Parents of babies with enlarged clitorises have been, for the most part, resorting to cosmetic surgery to correct the defect in their less than perfect offspring. As one parent noted in an online testimonial, the defect had to be fixed to avoid uncomfortable questions from relatives and daycare workers. Umm… right.

But WAIT! Clit surgery is no longer the only option! Now pregnant women can take a highly experimental drug that is not FDA approved and not only correct the potentially unsightly uber-clit, but also head off any potential for lesbian leanings.

Working with several collaborators, Maria New has written a series of scientific papers suggesting a strong connection between CAH and lesbianism. CAH, they write, is also associated with a disinterest in mothering, as well as "masculine behavior" in girls. Enter dexamethasone. It's a steroid that New and some of her colleagues believe can prevent some of the outward signs of CAH in girls - specifically, there is a small amount of evidence that it can prevent ambiguous genitals. Carriers of the gene mutation that causes this form of hyperplasia have roughly a 12.5% chance of having a daughter with the condition. The hormone treatment as to be started as soon as possible, before the gender of the child is determined, for it to have an effect on genital development. Remember that the fetus is highly susceptible in its development to any and all chemicals it is exposed to. 

With the breaking news on this topic Maria New has spoken up this week, saying that she is NOT attempting to prevent lesbianism. However, given her research areas of interest and statements on her findings, I find that hard to believe.
“In a paper published earlier this year New and her colleagues reported on data from 685 pregnancies in which the condition was diagnosed prenatally, acknowledging the potential effects of the treatment for reducing traditionally masculine behavior in girls. Prenatally treated girls were more likely to be shy, they wrote, while untreated girls were "more aggressive." Moreover, the authors said, failure to provide prenatal therapy seems to lead to traditionally masculine gender-related preferences in childhood play, peer association and career and leisure choices.”

Alice Dreger points out “it seems reasonable to try to prevent a child from suffering discrimination. But an approach like prenatal dex for homosexuality prevention positions gay and lesbian people as the problem to be cured, where we ought to see that it's our society that's suffering from a disease. The medical establishment has long recognized that gay and lesbian people are not inherently diseased.”

This movement to create perfect babies that conform to a subjective idea of what is normal is not just alarming, it is dangerous.
This also brings up a few questions:
1. Since when do doctors get to determine what normal female behavior is?
2. Unless you’re a therapist, what the hell do you care what the sexual preferences of others is?
3. You can’t get consent from a baby for their sexuality to be fucked with.
What gives the parents and the doctors the right to take this choice away from what will one day be an adult woman with a shitload of issues?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lakota you are sooooo right. Technology has gone over the line and the idea of ordering a baby the way you want it is just wrong. Thanks for getting the word out.