When it comes to conceiving children, staggering advancements over the years have made conception possible from test tubes, donors and surrogates. However a baby comes to be, finding out its sex used to be dependent upon the aid of medical staff and impossible to predict with high accuracy before 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In recent years, several over-the-counter gender prediction tests have become available at pharmacies and online. These at-home tests include urine tests that detect gender-specific hormones as early as 10 weeks. With proper use, these tests claim to predict a baby's sex with up to 82 percent accuracy. Though not as accurate as a traditional sonogram or blood DNA test, this option is considered reliable and is not dependent on medical staff.
Recently in the news, the at-home blood DNA test Pink or Blue by Consumer Genetics now claims to predict a baby’s gender as early as 7 weeks into pregnancy by picking up cell-free fetal DNA in the mother’s blood. This test requires a small blood sample to be mailed to a lab for processing. Not readily provided by U.S. doctors, this product can be ordered online and has recently been evaluated to be 95 percent accurate.
We live in an era where the speed of information is not only instantaneous; it has become integrated within our culture and social expectations. We have become a society where the ability to push information at lightning speed has driven a want into a need.
There is no waiting and there is no exception, especially in the arena of medical technology. Humans desire results now, pushing companies to develop cutting-edge solutions. But how far is too far, and what are the implications when it comes to human selfishness and skewed intended use of a product? At what point should ethics and morals draw boundaries, or should there be none?
The concern immediately arises that this DNA test and those like it will not be used for their intended purposes. Many expecting parents wish to know the sex of their unborn child for earlier planning and bonding. Others can use the test to provide relief over concern of gender-linked hereditary diseases or abnormalities. By knowing a fetus’ sex, evasive and risky procedures may be avoided if it’s discovered that the baby’s sex is not related to those illnesses of concern. But will early gender detection promote the termination of pregnancies for the basis of gender selection alone?
Although the United States has never shown much cause to this form of selective elimination, other countries such as India and China have grossly adhered to this trend, specifically if the baby is predicted to be female. This has accounted for millions of terminated girls based on sex alone. To help prevent this particular use of these products, some companies require a waiver to be signed stating that the test will not be used for gender selection. However, there is no real control over whether or not someone uses the test for gender selection.
There is always a downfall to moving too fast. I do not make a claim to being either for or against abortion, but I believe that terminating a child because it isn't a preferred gender is both ethically and morally wrong. Gender is not a disease. What will be next, terminating a child because a test is able to detect that its hair color is brown and not blond? Where will this end?
Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. At the very least, there should be a tight gauge on discovering whether there is a viable relationship between an increase in pregnancy terminations and an increase in use of these products as they become more readily available and affordable.
Although making advancements is necessary to move forward and progress as a human race, we need to be careful as a society as to how wide we open the doors.
Here are some resources for fertility and pregnancy counseling in West Central Florida: