Should doctors have authority to decide gender of intersex babies?

| | August 7, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Roughly one in every 2,000 babies in the U.S. are born with a range of traits that fall somewhere along the wide spectrum between male and female. Some doctors argue that the number of these so-called intersex babies is even higher — as many as one in 100 — depending on what biological markers are used to draw the line where nature hasn’t.

For babies with this condition, doctors look at genetic, hormonal, and anatomical factors likely to play a role in whether the baby will grow up to identify as a boy or a girl. Then, if the parents agree, they’ll often perform surgery to make their anatomy fit that gender assignment.

In 2012, the most recent year that data is available, surgeons at U.S. hospitals performed various intersex procedures at least 2,991 times on children under 18 years of age, and 1,759 of those surgeries were on children younger than 5.

But many intersex patients, parents, legal experts, and bioethicists are opposed to surgical fixes, which they argue are often medically unnecessary, riddled with consent issues, and physically and psychologically harmful.

For decades, medical professionals have performed genital surgeries on intersex babies in the name of allowing them to lead more normal lives — knowing whether to pee in the boys or girls restroom, being able to eventually reproduce as either a man or a woman, and, in rare cases, removing the risk of dangerous tumors. They claim that the majority of people who undergo surgery, as well as their parents, never look back.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Born in Between

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