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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

NYT on Sex Selection

The NYT reports on the technology - and ethics - of sex selection:
Regardless of the method, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes sex selection except in people who carry a genetic disease that primarily affects one sex. But allowing sex selection just because the parents want it, with no medical reason, may support “sexist practices,” the college said in an opinion paper published this month in its journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Some people say sex selection is ethical if parents already have one or more boys and now want a girl, or vice versa. In that case, it’s “family balancing,” not sex discrimination. The MicroSort study accepts only people who have genetic disorders or request family balancing (they are asked for birth records), and a company spokesman said that even if the technique was approved, it would not be used for first babies.

The obstetricians group doesn’t buy the family-balance argument, noting that some parents will say whatever they think the doctor wants to hear. The group also says that even if people are sincere about family balance, the very act of choosing a baby’s sex “may be interpreted as condoning sexist values.”
However, the article also includes the opinion of an expert who seems to express a more tolerant stance on the issue:
Dr. Jeffrey M. Steinberg, from Encino, Calif., who has three clinics that offer sex selection and plans to open a fourth, in Manhattan, said: “We prefer to do it for family balancing, but we’ve never turned away someone who came in and said, ‘I want my first to be a boy or a girl.’ If they all said a boy first, we’d probably shy away, but it’s 50-50.”

“Reproductive choice, as far as I’m concerned, is a very personal issue,” Dr. Steinberg said. “If it’s not going to hurt anyone, we go ahead and give them what they want.”
Previous posts on the subject: I, II, III, IV

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of civil liberties, but as a mom, I can't understand why a mom-to-be would really care that much about whether she has a boy or a girl. Even if baby number 4 is another boy, after he's born she'd never want to trade him in for anyone else.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a mom myself I have to agree with you whats the difference if the baby is a boy or girl - however some people are put under immense pressure (or perhaps they put themselves under the pressure to have a girl or in most cases a boy!)

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see a potential problem, especially in more religious communities that place tremendous demands on a girl's family when it comes to shidduchim and weddings. It's easier to have boys!

9:26 AM  
Blogger David said...

To me, it's sad that we've come to this.

There is a common belief that individuals can "choose" their environment in all ways, and if they make all the "right" choices, then everything will be perfect.

Lest we forget, Creation is a partnership with God, and His designs for us are not always obvious ahead of time (for that matter, they're not obvious after the fact either). Why not embrace the mystery which is the difference between gametes and a person?

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to the Anonymous from 2:40 --

Actually, I know a woman with several boys and no girls. She told me that though she loves all her children dearly, she does, quite often, deeply wish that at least one had been a girl.

She's a VERY responsible mother. But it's natural, after so many boys, to want a child who looks and just IS more like you, the mother.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a family in town with 7 boys and the mom is just desperate for that girl. She won't stop. She probably would have stopped at 3 or 4 if she had just had that first girl. Why do women wear themselves out like this? There is pressure from inside and outside. Probably she would be happier and healthier if she could have chosen to make that 4th child a girl. Then the rest of the kids onwards would have been a real choice and not a compulsion. Yes, I just called having infinite children a compulsion.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because you know WHAT you are getting, does not mean you know WHO you are getting.

Joan of Arc and Lizzie Borden were both girls, for instance.

There are only two sexes, but lot more than two kinds of people.

A woman can have a girl who has EXTREMELY LITTLE in common with her. It is not a mini-me. A man, too, with a boy. People are kidding themselves.

I agree, leave it alone. Don't select the sex.

Look what happened in China... they have many, many thousands of unmarried men....

No, leave it alone. It's not just wicked. It's also stupid. Children just are not here to fulfil their parents' fantasies, ever.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If she is taking good care of her seven boys, what's the problem? If giving her this girl-obsession was G-d's way to make her have seven children, whoever they are, what's the problem? The seventh may be the best of them all, later on.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't beleive you people are actually discussing this topic, did we forget that hashem does everything?

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot that the only wishful parenting thinking allowed is the one that starts "I want to have 12 kids to replace the Jews lost in the Holocaust." Talk about wishful thinking. May Hashem grant us wisdom to go along with our children of either sex. And the cash flow to keep them in yeshiva on a tunafish budget.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Dani said...

Hey, if people start selecting for boys, won't the 'Shidduch crisis' swing the other way with too many guys out there looking for women to marry?

1:57 PM  
Blogger FemaleJewishBlogger said...

I find this really scary--that anyone thinks it's okay to discard an embryo. I'm am not right-wing at all, and not anti-abortion rights (although I would like there to be a world where they never have to happen) but I don't see how this is more okay???
An abortion is straight out ending of life, but any tampering with genes before birth? Does anyone else here feel it's so the beginning of genetic cleansing (G-d forbid)?

2:19 AM  
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