Sunday, August 15, 2010

Medical treatment carries possible side effect of limiting homosexuality

Doctors have developed a new treatment that may help prevent congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a condition that leads to ambiguous genitalia and predisposes women to homosexual attraction (note to gay activists-- it didn't say it CAUSED homosexuality-- most women born with the condition are heterosexual).

The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits.

That such a treatment would ever be considered, even to prevent genital abnormalities, has outraged gay and lesbian groups, troubled some doctors and fueled bioethicists' debate about the nature of human sexuality.

The treatment is a step toward "engineering in the womb for sexual orientation," said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

But...what about reproductive freedom?

If I want to treat my fetus with this drug, then it's my body, my choice, right?

Whatever happened to "trust women"?

Oh right, sometimes they can't be trusted.

But here's the thing that irks me about this made up controversy. While it's true that the whole gay thing makes the story appealing to the masses, the real danger of this condition is not the increased predisposition to homosexuality, but this:

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, caused by a defect in an enzyme called 21-hydroxylase, affects about 1 in 15,000 infants, and almost all newborns are screened for it. Undetected, the abnormality can make both male and female infants critically ill within a few weeks of birth because of an associated salt loss through the urine. The defective enzyme also causes a deficiency of the hormone cortisol, which can affect heart function, and an increase in androgens produced by the adrenal glands.

I don't want to downplay the negative consequences of ambiguous genitalia, but the critical illness side of it seems to be the greater concern here. Also, the treatment was developed to prevent the need for future surgery. That seems like a pretty good idea to me.

I think the LA Times is exploiting the minor culture war themes in this development to sell a story.