Aaron Greenberg and J. Michael Bailey

Aaron S. Greenberg (born June 19, 1958) is an American lawyer who co-authored several controversial papers on bioethics with psychologist J. Michael Bailey.


Greenberg was born in Chicago and attended Washington University in St. Louis at the same time as Bailey, both graduating in 1979. Greenberg earned his law degree from University of Chicago and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1982.

Collaborations with Bailey

Beginning in 1993, Greenberg and Bailey published on the ethics of studying biological causes of sexual orientation, chemical castration of criminals, and the law’s relation to “mental disorders.” In that paper, summarizing the views of Thomas Szasz regarding the legitimacy of “mental illness” as a concept, they conclude the medical definition or biological origins of “mental disorders” has no relevance to the development of social policy relating to “mental disorders.”

Their most controversial paper was on eugenics, entitled “Parental Selection of Children’s Sexual Orientation,” published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2001. They argue that if parents could abort fetuses based on a prenatal test that showed the fetus was gay, that decision would be “morally acceptable.”

As we learn more about the causes of sexual orientation, the likelihood increases that parents will one day be able to select the orientation of their children. This possibility (at least that of selecting for heterosexuality) has generated a great deal of concern among supporters of homosexual rights, with such selection being widely condemned as harmful and morally repugnant. Notwithstanding this widespread condemnation, and even assuming, as we do, that homosexuality is entirely acceptable morally, allowing parents, by means morally unproblematic in themselves, to select for heterosexuality would be morally acceptable. This is because allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they wish to raise and because selection for heterosexuality may benefit parents and children and is unlikely to cause significant harm.

Greenberg was a no-show for a defense of that paper that advertised appearances by him and Bailey at Northwestern University on April 28, 2005. Only Bailey showed up.


Bailey JM, Greenberg AS (1998). The science and ethics of castration: Lessons from the Morse case. Northwestern University Law Review, 92(4), 1225-1245. (PDF)

Barlow G. NU professor defends controversial gay, trans research. Chicago Free Press, May 4, 2005 Page 1. via LynnConway.com

Conway L. Report on Bailey-Greenberg homosexual eugenics defense. via LynnConway.com 14 May 2005.

Greenberg AS, Bailey JM (1993). Do biological explanations of homosexuality have moral, legal, or policy implications? Journal of Sex Research, 30(3), 245-251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224499309551708

Greenberg AS, Bailey JM (1994). The irrelevance of the medical model of mental illness to law and ethics. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 1994 Spring;17(2):153-73. https://doi.org/10.1016/0160-2527(94)90023-X

Greenberg AS, Bailey JM (2001). Parental selection of children’s sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2001 Aug;30(4):423-37; discussion 439-41. (PDF)

J.C. Fifield Company, 1983 Listing for Aaron S. Greenberg. The American Bar, Volume 65, Part 1983, page 883. ISBN 9780931398087