The internet was abuzz last week with reports that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West choose the gender of their second child when undergoing IVF. The couple denies sex selection, but what surprised me was the shock the media and people expressed that anyone would consider selecting the gender of their unborn child. Many people seemed surprised that sex selection was even legal.
Infertility patients undergoing in vitro fertilization have long been able in the US to select the gender of the embryo being transferred, and sex selection is increasingly more common as genetic screening of embryos is becoming a more routine part of IVF. Adoptive parents are also able to select the gender of their child depending on the agency and type of adoption.
Statistics on the number of infertility clinics that allow patients to select the gender of the embryo during IVF are not available, but a 2006 survey by Johns Hopkins University found that 42 percent of fertility clinics offered gender selection as an option in IVF. The percentage would surely be significantly higher now that genetic screening of embryos in IVF is becoming almost common.
Ethicist have worried that if gender selection is allowed, families would prefer boys over girls resulting in a population gender imbalance, such as has occurred in China and India. However, fertility clinics that allow gender selection report that girls and boys are selected about evenly. Families in the US tend to prefer both genders about equally and are often seeking “family balancing”—a girl if they already have a boy, and vice versa.
Adoptive parents overwhelmingly prefer girls. Check out this article on the reasons why: Snips & Snails v. Sugar & Spice: Gender Preferences in Adoption.
Listen to this Creating a Family radio show/podcast discussion on Gender Selection When Trying to Conceive with Dr. Harvey Stern, Director of Genetics and the Fetal Diagnostic Center at the Genetics & IVF Institute and Medical Director of Fairfax Cryobank and of GIVF’s Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) program.
If you were able to choose the gender of your baby with little extra risk or work on your part, would you?
Image credit: US Weekly Magazine Daily Mail