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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gender knowing, or gender selecting?

There is a new product on the market that allows a pregnant woman to perform a simple home blood test to determine the gender of her fetus at 5 weeks.  Previously, expecting parents had to wait until the ultrasound, usually conducted at around 18 weeks, to find out.

This product raises certain ethical concerns.  In particular, even for those of us who support a woman's right to choose (or at least, for some of us; I can't speak for all of us), this raises the ugly specter of gender-selecting. 

This ethical issue is particularly relevant for certain Asian cultures that, we are told, promote or tolerate gender selecting.  Of course, it is also relevant everywhere else that gender selection may take place.  Two responses:

1.  It is not entirely clear that there is as much gender selection going on in Asia as we think.

2.  More importantly, assuming that people (in Asia or anywhere else) will abort based on gender, isn't it preferable that they abort at five weeks rather than 18 weeks?  I assume that the countervailing concern is that women who would not abort at 18 weeks for gender selection may choose to do so at 5 weeks.  Would three five-week abortions be preferable to two 18-week abortions?  (These are only questions for those of us who support a woman's right to choose, but nevertheless believe that a fetus has some value.)  I don't know the answer to this question.  But I still think the product itself is pretty cool.

Yarmulke tip: Daddytypes

Posted by Hillel Levin on June 28, 2005 at 10:18 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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