July 2005 - Posts
Another article about concerns that the Baby Gender Mentor test, which
claims to be able to determine an unborn baby's gender at just 5 weeks
gestation using just a drop of the mother's blood, will be used as the
basis for sex selective abortion. Tidbits from the article:
- 2,000 Baby Gender Mentor kits were sold since the test was featured on NBC's The Today Show (that's a three week span).
Surveys of Americans show no general gender preference
- Baby Gender Mentor is available only in the United States.
- The chairman of the department of medical ethics at the
University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Caplan, doubts the new test would be
used widely in the United States. I doubt he knows very many pregnant women.
- Caplan also "questioned the lack of counseling for those who want
to find out the baby's gender". Hello? Where is the
counseling for women who are devastated every day at an ultrasound when
they find out their baby is not the gender they hoped for?
- C. N. Wang, Acu-Gen's scientific director, said the company is
"not ready to publish data on the technique and its accuracy".
That's really interesting, because every media outlet is willing to
quote Acu-Gen's claim of accuracy without verifying it with any actual
Happy 1st birthday to Coco! She's the daughter of celebrities
Courtney Cox and David Arquette, conceived with IVF after Courtney had
repeated miscarriages. After her birth, Courtney suffered from PPD
(post-partum depression) and self-destructive feelings. But she hopes
to have another baby, saying, "We've got
to try for a boy. We've got to have a little (boy) Arquette in the
Best wishes to you, Courtney and David, on getting your little boy!
I've always supposed that celebrities are lurking among us in the
Gender Selection forums, because the longing for the "missing gender"
must strike them as deeply as it does we legions of "regular" women --
and they have more resources to pursue it than most of the rest of us.
Y'all are welcome here too. ;-)
Think that making love standing up will give you a boy? Think again.
A short excerpt from a fairly lengthy article in last month's American
Baby magazine, summarizing the gender selection experiences of three
mothers who tried Shettles, MicroSort, and PGD. The third mother
profiled, Jennifer Merrill Thompson, wrote a book about her experience
and her research into gender selection methods called Chasing the Gender Dream
. (I recommend the book!)
The original article included a couple of quotes from yours truly, but I guess I didn't make the Web cut. [:P]
Anti-abortion groups in the UK oppose the Baby Gender Mentor.
A mother of 3 boys awaits her Baby Gender Mentor results to find out if her 4th child is a boy or a girl.
Interestingly, Acu-Gen, the makers of Baby Gender Mentor, have
announced that a new test will soon be available to screen for severe
chromosomal defects such as Down's Syndrome early in
pregnancy. Unlike Baby Gender Mentor, which is an at-home test
using only a few drops of dried blood to obtain fragments of the baby's
DNA to determine gender, the Down's test will be performed in a
Article: Test tube perfection
, Herald Sun, Australia
Quotes from the maladroit Father Bill Uren, rector of the Jesuit Theological College:
He denounced parents who "just want to create children after their own image".
What, exactly, kind of children should I want, then? I pretty
much thought children in our "own image" was the natural course of
"What right have we as beneficiaries of the birth lottery to rig it for the next generation?" he said.
Many people feel it's not a right, but a responsibility to try to give a better life to the next generation.
"We are commodifying children -- making them into a supermarket product you can just pick off the shelves."
Ha, ha, Father Bill. That commodity line always cracks me
up. Having a baby, in case you haven't noticed, involves being
pregnant for an extended period of time and a fairly exigent birth
process -- not to mention adding the expensive and harrowing experience
of IVF into the mix, if that is needed. I don't know where you do
your grocery shopping, but the last time I checked, grabbing an item
off the supermarket shelf wasn't all that taxing.
He warned that any sex selection would disadvantage females as parents would choose a male as their first child and heir.
Father B had a) looked at any research on gender preference, and b)
looked at preferences for Australia, he would have found a good deal of
evidence that non-Asian countries show a strong desire for children of
both genders; and that among those seeking to use sex selection, more
are hoping to have a girl than a boy.
Early sex selection test raises ethical concerns
(CBC News, Canada)
it's not Acu-Gen's Early Gender Mentor. Paragon Genetics, a DNA
testing lab offering paternity, infidelity, and forensic testing, has
begun offering what is now called "non-invasive" prenatal testing, by
obtaining the baby's DNA through a sample of the mother's blood. A
gender determination test is also available.
CBC article makes the usual unfounded assumption that anybody who got
their hands on such a test would want to use it to abort girls. For
the 100th time -- please say it with me -- Westerners do not share the
Asian aversion to daughters. There is significant and growing evidence
that in the US and Europe, parents who hope to choose their baby's
gender are more often seeking a daughter.
'Savior sibling' born to Fletcher family
written before about the Whitakers, a family with a seriously ill son
who could be cured by a bone marrow transfusion. They hoped to use PGD
to have a 'savior sibling' -- using an embryo selected because it was a
tissue match for their older son. However, the UK's HFEA (the aptly
called "watchdog" organization that decides who can do what with
fertility treatments in the UK) denied the Whitakers the use of PGD on
the grounds that only an existing child would benefit, not the baby who
would be born as the result of PGD.
HFEA's convoluted logic was much criticized (or criticised, it being
England), as you might expect with a storyline like this:
Mr. & Mrs. Whitaker: Dear HFEA, we'd like to use PGD.
HFEA: Well, we don't like it. You'd better have a good reason.
Whitakers: To save the life of a child.
HFEA: Not good enough. Next!
all that's old news. The UK has changed their stance to allow PGD for
savior siblings! And, the first baby to result from this medical
blessing has been born to the Fletchers in Belfast. Their young son
suffers from a very rare disease Diamond Blackfan Anemia, or DBA (just
like Charlie Whitaker). Using PGD, the Fletchers conceived a daughter
to be a tissue match for a bone marrow transplant to hopefully cure
him. (In case you're worried about this procedure hurting the baby,
the cord blood can be used.)
Jennifer is a MicroSort mother and the author of Chasing the Gender Dream
. She has been interviewed for The Today Show (wow!) but as yet the air date is not known.