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Ethicists Charge Doctor With Trying to Prevent Homosexuality in the Womb
Date:8/6/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Bioethicists are accusing a noted American pediatric endocrinologist and researcher of what they claim is the first attempt to prevent homosexuality and bisexuality in the womb in a dispute that has drawn in leading major medical organizations.

The accusations revolve around the experimental prenatal treatment of female fetuses for a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which can result in girls being born with ambiguous genitalia.

The pediatrician, Dr. Maria New of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University, is a longtime champion of the prenatal use of a powerful steroidal medication called dexamethasone to prevent the development of CAH in the womb.

But some medical ethicists accuse New of having a hidden agenda. New has also taken part in research that has linked CAH to sexual orientation, noting that girls with CAH were more likely to be bisexual or homosexual and more likely to be interested in traditionally "masculine" careers and hobbies.

The bioethicists believe New's desire to treat female fetuses with dexamethasone stems from a desire to "prevent" lesbianism or bisexuality and steer girls toward classically defined femininity.

"Her main goal has been to prevent ambiguous genitalia and all the things that come with it, including what she calls 'behavioral masculinization,'" charged Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "She includes in that what she calls 'masculinized orientation.'"

Dreger described New's work as the first instance in the history of medicine that "clinicians are actively trying to prevent homosexuality."

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia remains a relatively rare condition, with about 1 in every 10,000 to 18,000 children born with the disorder, according to t
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Ethicists Charge Doctor With Trying to Prevent Homosexuality in the Womb
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