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Gender-selective abortions could increase with blood test to determine sex at 7 weeks comment (0)

October 20, 2011

A blood test recently proven to be capable of accurately determining the sex of an unborn child as early as seven weeks’ gestation could result in an increase in gender-selective abortions in the United States.

Observers have expressed concern in the wake of a study published online in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association that documented the precision of a test that can be performed much earlier than an ultrasound. It is much less invasive than amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. It also is much more reliable than tests that require a urine sample.

In addition, it is convenient and is performed privately in a doctor’s office.

The test can be utilized for such harmless purposes as determining blood type or relieving anxious curiosity, but the ease by which it is conducted can lead to ethical corruption, said bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania.

Though many Americans believe sex-selection abortion exists only in foreign countries, there are indications the practice is gaining a hold among some groups in the United States. Chinese and Indian cultures place emphatic pressure on women to give birth to boys. While the United States does not have a coercive, one-child policy like China and its citizens are not normally concerned with producing a male heir, it appears some immigrants from such Asian countries as India and China have adopted the practice in the United States.

A study published in the June issue of Prenatal Diagnosis discovered that in some Asian-American third pregnancies, more boys than girls are born in ratios that suggest prenatal sex selection.

In addition, although sex-selection abortion by Americans is a rare occurrence, some upper-middle-class women have expressed desires to give birth to children of a certain gender by means of in vitro fertilization. They have given multiple reasons as justification, from balancing the family to a love for everything pink and girly, wrote Sunita Puri, a resident physician at San Francisco General Hospital, in an article for the online magazine Slate.  (BP)

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