Couples travel to U.S. for gender choice

Feb. 26, 2006 at 11:17 PM

MELBOURNE, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Australian couples are traveling to the United States for in-vitro fertilization so they can select the sex of their baby.

The couples are spending up to $25,000 to use a controversial embryo sex screening procedure that is banned in Australia, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported.

A News Limited investigation revealed up to 14 Australian couples have used the IVF procedure and embryo screening known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis at the Los Angeles-based Fertility Institutes medical center.

Director Jeffrey Steinberg said all the couples were fertile.

The procedure, also known as "family balancing," has been banned in Britain, Europe, Asia and Canada as well as Australia.

Fertility Institutes performs up to 400 of the procedures every year, the newspaper said. Parents can choose the child they want from a menu listing the characteristics of the egg donor -- including height, intellect and complexion.

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