06 May 2007

new gender testing kit

Has anyone else heard about the new DNA testing kit which determines the gender of the fetus at 6 weeks? 'The Early Gender Test' is sparking protest in Britain particularly from Right to Life proponents who argue that if women are able to find out the gender of a fetus so early into the pregnancy, abortion rates will increase. The test apparently is accurate because fetal DNA is present in the mother's bloodstream only a few weeks into the pregnancy. Women can purchase the DNA kit online and then receive the results within 4 working days. The test checks for Y-chromosomes in the mother's blood which indicates the presence of a boy.

I have to say I am not concerned about the test in terms of the anti-abortion position of 'killing' more 'babies', what does concern me is that this test will be used as a means for sex selection; for example, it's a frightening prospect to think that even more baby girls will be terminated because they aren't as culturally 'valuable' (hello, China!). Apparently the company claims it does not allow orders to be taken on the website from countries that are known for gender biased birth policies like China or India but this is not indicated on the company website. In China, sex selection has led to an imbalance of about 120 men for every 100 women; and in India, one recent report from an affluent area of New Delhi found that for every 1,000 boys born in 2004, only 762 girls were born.

Bioethicists have made similar arguments about the increasingly sophisticated nature of 3D/4D ultrasound technology which is used for the same purposes by most expectant parents just later in the pregnancy (normally at about 18 weeks). The gender of a foetus can be determined by ultra-sound imagery but it is not very accurate before four to six months. The company that created the product, DNA Worldwide, claims that the new test is 99% accurate and if it does make an incorrect prediction parents will receive a refund. Many doctors are still skeptical of the accuracy of the test and at least 200 couples have already received incorrect gender determinations which were confirmed with ultrasound later in the pregnancy.

Should we make use of new technology just because we can?

Read more here:

http://www.in-gender.com/Gender_Venders/Acu-Gen.aspx (about the inaccuracy of the test)


nixthings said...

Technology will always be abused, that in itself doesn't make it a bad thing. As a mother, who cares whether the mum finds out the gender at 2,4,or 40 weeks. And as much as I abhor the gender selection concept, I'd prefer babies to be aborted (for whatever reason) as young as possible, ie. at 2 weeks rather than 3 or 6 months say. Or like in China where the babies are discarded after birth. We can't prevent things like this through prohibiting technology, only through cultural change.

Olivia said...

There's also the problem of calling it "Gender" testing. It should be called Sex testing since male or female is biological and gender, i.e. boy or girl is a social construct and doesn't alway match a child's genetalia.

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