Prenatal Pill May Reduce Lesbianism

Ambiguous genitalia treatment raises alarms
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2010 3:18 AM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2010 7:51 AM CDT

A prenatal pill designed to prevent ambiguous genitalia in newborns may end up reducing lesbianism, triggering complaints from critics that the treatment is nothing more than medical engineering to manipulate sexual orientation. A few dozen pregnancies each year in the US result in babies with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which causes an accumulation of male hormones. Hormone treatment in utero can reduce the likelihood that a female will be born with masculinized genitalia, but the pill also appears to reduce the chances that a baby girl will be homosexual and increases traditionally feminine behavioral traits, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Most clinicians speak about this treatment as ambiguous-genitalia prevention," said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University. "Others suggest that you should prevent homosexuality if you can. But being gay or lesbian is not a disease and should not be treated as such." Traditionally, ambiguous genitalia have been altered with surgery at birth. Intersex advocates often recommend no surgery at least until adolescence, and that the child be part of the decision concerning gender identity. Others question the prenatal treatment's long-term safety: Animal studies have found that the pill appears to alter brain function.
(Read more prenatal care stories.)

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