How would you feel if people could actually pick the gender of their baby? It surprised me to hear that gender selection is actually gaining ground here in the United States. I’ve heard about the strong preference for having boys in Asian countries, but in the United States, I didn’t think it would be like that.
It might be too early to compare it to what’s going on in Asia, but there’s a new technology that might change how parents look at pregnancy forever. It’s called “Microsort,” and it actually separates the sperm bearing X-chromosomes from the Y-bearing sperms. Another new technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis starts with in vitro fertilization and creates embryos outside of the womb, then implants only the desired gender.
Interestingly, the World Health Organization offers the three main motivations for determining the sex of a child. The first is to prevent the birth of a genetically defective child, in the event that a couple knows one gender is more likely to have genetic defects. Most people would probably see this as a valid motivation. The second motivation is for family balancing, which means people who have a boy might want a girl, or vice versa. The third motivation is for cultural, social, or economic reasons, which is what happens in Asian countries like China.
If you felt a bit uncomfortable with some of those motivations, you’re not alone. There are people citing ethics and human rights to challenge prenatal sex determination. From my perspective, it seems like a good thing for a couple to deliberately choose a baby that won’t suffer genetic disorders or defects, while it’s much more selfish when it comes to something like cultural pressures. The question is, are those cultures so harsh to the undesired sex that it’s a similar kind of motivation to pick the gender better suited to that environment?
Unfortunately, I don’t know how big this is getting in the United States yet, but it has been a growing trend in Canada and other Western countries. It does seem like a lot of people are unwilling to go for medical intervention to pick the gender of their child, but who knows how many people would do it if it were more convenient.
Gadit, A. (July, 2012). Gender Selection: Is There a Growing Trend. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. Retrieved May 17, 2013.