What would you do if you discovered early in your pregnancy that you were pregnant with a girl when you wanted a boy? Would you terminate the pregnancy? With the advent of a new DNA test that can determine the sex of a fetus at 7 weeks gestation with a simple blood or urine test, fetal sex selection is now possible. However, before you proceed to pop the cork on your bottle of champagne, a word of precaution is warranted. The Chinese and India dilemmas present a global warning regarding the perils of fetal sex selection. Boys now outnumber girls in China and India and competition is fierce regarding finding a wife or a mate. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), by the year 2020, there will be between 30 to 40 million more boys than girls in China and the statistics in India are equally as alarming. In her book, Sobs In The Night, Xinran describes a scene where a baby girl is born and the father cries out, “Useless thing” and then the baby is dropped in a bucket and dies. This “son preference” is what has caused the unusually large amount of U.S. adoptions of baby Chinese girls.
Clinically, the gender of a baby is only important if you are screening for gender-related diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy or Hemophilia that has adverse effects on males. Barring those exceptions, testing for fetal sex determination is merely an exercise of curiosity and desire. One of America’s greatest poets was a delightful young man name Mattie Stepanek who had Muscular Dystrophy and lived 13 short but brilliant and magnificent years on this planet. He died 3 weeks before his 14th birthday and was eulogized by former President Jimmy Carter. His words touched the hearts of millions including Oprah Winfrey. What would have happened had his mother decided to terminate her pregnancy because Mattie was a boy who was born with a disease?
According to the Fertility Institute, clinics in Los Angeles, New York and Guadalajara, Mexico, 85% of 500 American couples chose fetal sex determination although 75% of these couples lived abroad. The question is not whether a mother has or does not have the right to terminate a pregnancy. The question is should a pregnancy be terminated because of a fetus’s gender?
Native Americans perhaps said it best: “Nature hangs in balance. It is man that creates the imbalance.” Please be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*