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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Fertility industry oversight is urged

March 05, 2009|Kimi Yoshino

The public interest group Center for Genetics and Society is calling on Congress to hold hearings on oversight of the largely unregulated $3-billion fertility industry.

Spurred by the octuplets controversy that resulted after a Beverly Hills fertility doctor transferred at least six embryos into 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, and by advertisements for "designer babies," the group said the United States needed to establish regulations similar to what exists in other industrialized countries.

"For too long, America has had an unfortunate reputation as the 'Wild West' of the fertility industry -- and that image has been reinforced by recent controversies," said Marcy Darnovsky, the center's associate executive director. "Federal regulation and oversight are needed, and Congress should take the first step by holding hearings."

The group said it also was concerned, as states begin to introduce new legislation in response to the controversies, that it not become a "cumbersome patchwork" of laws. Already, California, Georgia and Missouri have introduced legislation to regulate fertility clinics.

The Fertility Institute, based in Los Angeles, caused a recent stir by advertising gender, hair and color selection in babies.

On Monday, the institute announced that it would suspend its program to select eye and hair color.

-- Kimi Yoshino

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