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Sex selection: just because we can doesn’t mean we should

As I read the opinion piece in the New York Times about fertility clinics that permit parents to choose the sex of their baby before pregnancy, I was suddenly aware that I had strong feelings about this. As I tried to analyze my indignation, I realized that my emotions came from a place beyond mere reason.

Although technically, this issue could be reduced to a matter of sperm sorting – we all know it’s much more than that. Choosing the sex of your unborn child wanders into an unexplainably uncomfortable territory – swirling unconscious feelings about the value of human life, sexual equality, and the pain of sexism that many have experienced. We have heard the horrible stories about female babies being selectively aborted, or left to die in the elements in India and China, and we wonder if choosing the sex of a baby is somehow part of the same phenomenon.

Why should it matter which sex the baby is? Why is “family balance” cited as a reason to sex select? Perhaps the balance comes from the makeup of the individual personalities in a family, or maybe from parents who plan for the right number of children, not the gender of them.

Personally, I cannot support the practice of sex selection for anything other than sex-linked genetic disease prevention (and even this makes me feel a little uncomfortable, frankly).

I’m curious to know if men and women are equally disturbed by the practice of sex selection… What do you think?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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4 Responses to “Sex selection: just because we can doesn’t mean we should”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I had hoped my first child would have been male. Does this make me wrong? I never had a brother so I wanted my daughter to have an older brother to protect her. My first born I knew would be female and she was. I did not love her any less. I think if you are going to pay the huge amount to a fertility clinic if you get to choose the sex it should be ok. As for China if women in that country were given equal rights and equal pay then the abortion of girls would be less.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m also indignant about this — since when did we think it was a right to be able to choose our children like they’re a selection of precooked, kept-warm meal packages at a fast food joint? I’d like cheese, no onions, extra-large fries, super-size my coke please. I agree with you, Val, that there’s something different about selection based in treatment of sex-specific conditions, but that too makes me a big uncomfortable. We can’t have what we want every day of the week, no matter how convenient our society becomes.

  3. wellth says:

    I am disturbed by this practice for so many of the reasons you cited and more. Thank you for your post.

    I hope those posting comments will indicate if they are male or female, so that Val can gauge feedback, via the second to the last sentence.

  4. LadyVol says:

    I, too, am very disturbed that the beautiful magic of conception and childbirth has been reduced to a shopping trip. What happened to just hoping to have a healthy baby, period?

    As a 50ish woman who didn’t know until the moment she came into the world that her baby was a girl….i would’nt trade that moment of surprise and joy for anything!!

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