Is This Wrong?

According to Karen Kaplan at the LA Times, couples can now test early in their pregnancy to find the sex of the child the woman is carrying, and do it cheaply. The paper thinks that the story is the legal culpability the manufacturers have, because their tests are not particularly accurate or reliable. I think the question is “Why are the parents doing this?”

“I wouldn’t have had an abortion, but there are women out there who experience really big disappointment,” said Jolene Sodano, a stay-at-home mother in Nazareth, Pa., whose daughter was mistakenly identified as a boy. “They really want to give their husbands the little boy they want, or a little girl, and they will abort based on these results.”

They will? Of course they will. Some people are convinced that the child’s gender is sufficient reason.

It may seem a frivolous use of DNA. But the genetic tests are relatively inexpensive, and some parents figure there is no harm in learning the sex of their baby a little earlier than the usual 10 to 16 weeks needed for traditional medical tests, such as ultrasound.For the Jains, the test was for more than mere curiosity. Geeta discovered the Pink or Blue test on the Internet after an unexpected pregnancy presented the couple with a dilemma.

She wanted to keep the baby, but Rohit wasn’t sure. With two daughters already, the family’s finances were a bit strained. Could they really afford a third child?

Geeta countered with another question: What if the baby were a boy?

Then, apparently, the child is undesirable. What a euphemism that is. In English, it means that the parents can’t be bothered – at least not with a child of the incorrect sex – just of the right one.

In traditional Indian culture, sons are prized because they will grow up to manage the family resources and support their parents in old age, even lighting their funeral pyres.

This couple does not live in Bombay, where cries of poverty are world-class extreme, and where immolation upon death is a cultural fact of life. This couple lives in Canada.

I’ll answer my own question in the title: Yes, this is wrong. Strikes me as blatantly immoral, too.

Thanks to William Saletan at Slate for the link.

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