Could a New Blood Test Lead To Gender Selection?

Would women in America be more likely to terminate a pregnancy if they weren’t happy with the sex of the child they were carrying?  That’s the fear behind a new blood test that could eventually be available to the general public, and which can determine the sex of a fetus at just seven weeks gestation.

But is this just another “women abort for frivolous reasons” stereotype?

Via the Associated Press:

There’s very little data on reasons for U.S. abortions or whether gender preferences or gender-detection methods play a role, said Susannah Baruch, a policy consultant for the Generations Ahead, an advocacy group that studies genetic techniques and gender issues.

Consumer Genetics Inc. a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company sells an “early gender” blood test called “Pink or Blue” online for $25 plus $265 or more for laboratory testing. It boasts of 95 percent accuracy, using a lab technique its scientists developed from the type of testing evaluated in the new analysis, said Terry Carmichael, the company’s executive vice president.

Carmichael said the company sells more than 1,000 kits a year. He said the company won’t test blood samples unless women sign a consent form agreeing not to use the results for gender selection.

If women were determined to abort due to the sex of the fetus they were carrying, it seems pretty likely that they would already be seeking out early detection via CVS (12 weeks), NT scan (14 weeks), or amnio (16 weeks).  Learning the sex even earlier seems like it would only make that situation occur earlier, not add to the number of women who would abort for that reason.

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  • crowepps

    There’s quite a bit of information on gender preferences available here:

    According to Gallup polls, when men are asking to choose the gender of their one child, 19% pick a girl, 48% pick a boy, and 33% would be happy with either.  Women actually prefer a girl at 35% with only 30% preferring a boy and 35% happy with either.

    If the ability to know the child’s gender results in gender imbalances, children aren’t going to predominantly male because of women’s preferences.