Genetic Tests for Determining Fetal Sex

It’s safe. It’s accurate. It predicts the sex of a fetus, at just a few weeks’ pregnancy.

And it’s not being sold direct-to-consumers for at-home use.

Yet.

From the LA Times: A new test to reveal a baby’s gender revives an old ethical dilemma

Now a team of Dutch researchers reports a new method for screening maternal blood and reports 100% success in determining a baby’s gender as soon as seven weeks after conception.

The study included 201 pregnant women whose blood was drawn between 2003 and 2009. The test produced conclusive results in 189 cases, and all of those results were correct. The findings were published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The idea behind the test isn’t simply to give parents extra time to start painting the nursery pink or blue. It’s to help screen for genetic disorders that are sex-linked.

Or, it could be the basis for sex selection by means of abortion — which makes this a technology bound to raise ethical concerns. And if, like so many other genetic tests, it is eventually offered at home, far from doctors and their talk of what’s “clinically necessary,” the debate will only get louder.

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About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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