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Gay or straight baby - the choice could be yours says expert

Published: 8:47PM Tuesday August 07, 2012 Source: ONE News

Parents-to-be may be able to have their unborn child screened for homosexuality within a matter of a few years, according to a visiting American expert in bioethics.

Professor Robert Klitzman of Columbia University's Centre for Bioethics has told TV ONE's Close Up that genetic tests are now being developed to look for autism, alzheimers and various types of cancers.

"We may find tests with homosexuality for instance," he said.

This would mean people could decide they do not want a child because it is going be gay, or that they want a child that is gay.

"So over the next few years as we develop more genetic testing, as the price goes down so it becomes very affordable to do this, these will be questions that millions of people will face," Klitzman said.

He said there are now technologies to screen babies for thousands of conditions.

"We can screen foetuses for many, many conditions and we can now also screen embryos before they are implanted in a woman.

"And we can say 'we want these embryos because they don't have this mutation and they're a boy or we want these.' And these are presenting many, many questions and problems."

The New Zealand Government offers screening for newborn babies, helping to pick whether they are likely to have Down Syndrome.

But a group of concerned parents does not believe there should be genetic testing for that.

Asked where the line should be drawn, Klitzman said, "We need to engage in these discussions and think about what kind of person we want."

He said at least in the United States, it's a "free market" with people buying and selling eggs and sperm and designing babies for a variety of things.

Klitzman is in New Zealand to give a give a series of lectures on the issue of scanning unborn babies for genetic defects.

Details of his lectures are on our Close Up page .

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