Skip to content

Girl or Boy? You Decide

The world of technology is always changing with improvements on the ways in which machines used for medical purposes work and how they are being used. Imagine being a couple who wants to expand your family and have a child; not only do you want a child but you are determined to have a girl. You may wonder if this is possible, can we really choose the sex of our children.  Well, with new technology, you certainly can but an important question to discuss is if the is messing with Mother Nature or not and gender identities are definitely affecting technological practices through the use of Preimplantation genetic diagnosis to choose the gender of a child.
Women are now able to use technology to have more control of procreation through the use of an embryo screening procedure that was originally invented for the use of identifying embryos that carry fatal genetic diseases. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which is also called embryo screening is a procedure performed on embryos before in vitro fertilization. The benefit of this procedure is that it is used to identify embryos that may have a genetic condition that can possibly lead to disease.
In an article found in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Jennifer Bails there are several interviews with women who in fact have undergone PGD in order to choose the gender of their child. One woman states that the “newfound power could help to break the silent taboo in our culture about gender preference, you are only allowed to say you want a healthy baby and it is almost viewed as being superficial or insensitive to care about gender but a lot of people do.”  Another woman stated that her main motivation for wanting to have another baby using this gender choosing procedure is so that her daughter could have a little sister to play with. Although this seems like a family can create their own perfect world, it does not come without its faults.
Daniel Potter who is an infertility specialist at the Huntington Reproductive Center stated in the newspaper article that the women who long to choose the gender of their children have a memory slot in their consciousness that is taken up by that particular gender they want their child to be. He states that if they do not get the child they want, they go through a period of grief because like all types of technology, nothing is guaranteed to work the way we always want it to work.  Personally, I feel that this is harmful to both the child and to the parents. The parents may or may not begin to reject their child due to the fact that he or she may not be the gender they hoped for. This can cause a long term effect of emotional problems for both the child and the parents.
On the contrary to the article discussed above, Sex Selection: Not Obviously Wrong written by Bonnie Steinbock talks about the negative connotations that gender selection can have on a society. Steinbock starts off by stating that sexism and sexual discrimination are terrible and that both sexes are entitled to equal rights and opportunities. She argues that some people feel that sex selection is yet another way people can impose their sexist views on the world.
Although choices that are made on an individual level may not be harmful at the time the decision was made but it can cause great social consequences. The examples given in this article are not only focusing on gender selection in the United States but also in foreign countries such as India and China. A sex selection machine called the Microsort has been used in the United States and is becoming more common in other countries as well. The machine was introduced as a way of avoiding diseases that generally affect males by selecting girl embryos which is why so many couples in the US, where Microsort shows more a preference because of its accuracy in choosing girls, are more attracted to this device than those in other counties such as India and China. “Abortion after an ultrasound is practiced in countries like India and China to ensure the birth of male offspring” (Steinbock 26). In both of these countries and possibly several others who use these sorts of methods have populations that are drastically skewed due to that fact they are practicing abortion and infanticide.
Some may argue that these skewed populations will eventually regulate themselves in the future while others feel that something must be done immediately to correct the gender imbalances. The governments of India and China have both banned prenatal testing in order to find out the sex of the fetus but there have not been any law in the United States prohibiting the use of Preimplantation genetic diagnosis to eliminate the births of unwanted sexes.
In conclusion, many people who are pro gender selection argue that there is nothing wrong with a family making a decision they feel is right for them and their family and that it will take the rights of a woman away to make a decision she feels is best for her. While on the other hand, others feel it is ethically wrong and that in the long run can have drastic effects on the population and the male to female ratio. The ideas that I will continue to ponder are to what extent should such a decision be left to an individual and how much should a parent care about the sex of their child?

Works Cited

Bails, Jennifer. “Blue, pink? U-pick.” The Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia] 25 Feb. 2009: E, E3.

Steinbock, Bonnie. “Sex Selection: Not Obviously Wrong.” The Hastings Center Report 32.1 (2002): 23-28