Lifewatch: Determining Sex

WILMINGTON -- For thousands of years people have  been trying to play a role in determining the sex of their children.  Now, it is possible to use science to choose the sex.

Jeffrey Steinberg, a fertility specialist, has been doing in vitro fertilization for 30 years.  Now, he lets patients chose the sex of their children.

"If they want a boy, we give them only boys and if they want a girl, we give them only girls; and in thousands of cases, we've never gone wrong," said Steinberg.

Gender selection for non-medical reasons is illegal in many countries, but not in the United States.

The best way to achieve sex selection is with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.  By extracting one cell of an embryo before it's implanted, Steinberg can tell an embryo's sex.

Many Americans don't want the option; while 41% of infertility patients would choose their baby's sex, less than 18% of the general population would.

"They are basically saying that they want to use the science now of gender selection to discriminate against half of civilization, half of the people on Earth," said Ken Goodman, a PhD ethicist.

Steinberg believes it's only a matter of time before gender selection is widely accepted.

"It's new. We know it's controversial. It scares people. But I've been doing in vitro fertilization for 30 years and 30 years ago, in vitro fertilization was new," said Steinberg.

Reported by Kristy Ondo