Would you want to decide if you were having a boy or girl? Embryo screening can show the sex of the embryo and essentially allows parents to choose the sex of their child. But health experts aren't certain if that's a good thing.
Karmen and Randall Bruner are having the time of their lives, which is cool because soon they’ll be welcoming two lives. They’re having twin boys.
“We’re super excited,” Karmen tells 41 Action News. “One’s going to be Parren Randall and one’s going to be Hunter Bryan.”
The Bruners conceived through in vitro fertilization. During that process, the couple learned they were both carriers for cystic fibrosis. That discovery was made because the Bruners also opted for an embryo screening procedure. One that’s often done at the Midwest Reproductive Center in Olathe.
“We’re screening out the ones that would’ve been unsuccessful and we’re reducing the risk of miscarriage by doing so,” said Dan Gehlbach, a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist.
Many celebrities have decided to take this process a step further. Embryo screening also shows if the embryos are male or female.
Just last year singer John Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Tiegen, made headlines when they told People Magazine they chose to have a baby girl.
“It’s not just limited to celebrities,” said Dr. Mathew Goering, director of clinical embryology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. “There are a number of clinics around the United States that are offering the testing for sex selection.”
Goering’s colleague Dr. Courtney Marsh has fielded some of those requests at KU.
“We’ve had people from different countries wanting twin boys as a request. Not just one, twins! Some requests are not always even possible,” Marsh said.
Even if it were possible, the doctors that treat the Bruners at KU say it’s something they aren’t considering. Same with Gehlbach at Midwest Reproductive Center.
“So we treat our embryos as being gender neutral," said Gehlbach. "If couples are interested in gender selection, we just refer them elsewhere.”
Gehlbach doesn’t think this process is offered anywhere in the KC metro and hopes it stays that way. As of right now, this type of sex selection is not regulated. There are several medical organizations that strongly oppose gender-selection, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Goering considers sex selection a slippery slope.
“The other thing for me is with sex selection, where do you draw the line?" said Goering. "If you’re going to determine the sex, or gender of the child, then why not intellectual ability, or athletic ability, or hair color, eye color? It’s definitely a brave new world, right?”
Even if given the option to choose, the Bruners say they wouldn’t.
“I don’t think I would. I’d still leave it up to chance,” Karmen Bruner said.
Her husband Randall agrees, “Guess we better start planning on baseball instead of ballet.”