Well, here is what sober minded bioethicists have to say about this research:
In any case, we think Nimkarn and New’s “paradigm for prenatal diagnosis and treatment” suggests a reason why activists for gay and lesbian rights should be wary of believing that claims for the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation. Evidence that homosexual orientation is inborn could, instead, very well lead to new means of pathologization and prevention, as it seems to be in the case we’ve been tracking.
Needless to say, we do not think it reasonable or just to use medicine to try to prevent homosexual and bisexual orientations. Nor do we think it reasonable to use medicine to prevent uppity women, like the sort who might raise just these kinds of alarms. Consider that our declaration of our conflict of interest.
From Dan Savage:
Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New—of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University—isn't just trying to prevent lesbianism by treating pregnant women with an experimental hormone. She's also trying to prevent the births of girls who display an "abnormal" disinterest in babies, don't want to play with girls' toys or become mothers, and whose "career preferences" are deemed to "masculine."
It is a long time sci-fi fear of gays and lesbians on the cusp of becoming a reality. AfterElton explains:
Back in 1993, Jonathan Tolins' wrote a play called The Twilight of the Golds, which had an interesting premise that was the stuff of gay nightmares. The play (and later TV movie) imagined the arrival of genetic testing that would allow prospective parents to find out if their unborn child was destined to be gay.
The plot follows one family – the Gold-Steins – as they wrestled with the discovery that their unborn male child is destined to be gay. Particularly compelling was the effect of their decision on the wife's gay brother.
Back in 1993 it was the stuff of science fiction, but by way of Dan Savage yesterday we learned that a pediatric endocrinologist from Florida's Mount Sinai School of Medicine is now trying to prevent lesbianism by treating pregnant women with an experimental hormone.
Psychology Today explains the dangers:
- The specific drug we're talking about, dexamethasone, is not a benign drug for pregnant women, nor for the children exposed in utero. The studies we do have on the early prenatal use of "dex" are worrisome. The number of women and children missing from the follow-up studies of this drug use is more worrisome still.
This drug is unequivocally experimental and risky. That's why, back in February, I organized interested members of the Bioethics community to fight to make sure every woman offered dex for CAH knows the truth about its experimental and risky nature. (You can read about our efforts in Time magazine. And you can about the medical establishment's resultant mad scampering to make sure everyone knows this is experimental here.) Make no mistake: In spite of Dr. Maria New's outrageous FDA-regulation-flaunting claims that this off-label drug use "has been found safe for mother and child," it ain't been. New is a rogue pediatrician whom medical societies have been nudging (and sometimes yelling at) for years. Because she apparently wouldn't stop experimenting on these women and children without ethics oversight, in January I got called in to help by a few freaked-out clinicians. And I called in my colleagues to call out the feds. New just looks and sounds safe for mothers and children. Which is why she's really dangerous.
But the bottom line is that an attempt to prenatally prevent homosexual orientation isn't just bad medicine (because it isn't necessary or safe), it's bad for American democracy, because it sends the message that you must conform to the most conservative social norms to count as acceptable and to be allowed to live, with full rights, free of discrimination and abuse in American society.
The last point is the most important. Right wingers constantly speak of their reverence for life, and the sanctity of it. But things like this show, once again, that their reverence and sanctity of life comes with conditions and strings attached.