Early fetal gender test demands rapid ethical policymaking

This alert highlights the research published this week in a special issue of Prenatal Diagnosis entitled, Fetal Sexing: Global Perspectives on Practices, Ethics and Policy. The special issue arose out of a workshop organized as part of the SAFE network of excellence.

Reviews highlighted in this newsalert:

  • Early pregnancy maternal blood test for fetal gender demands rapid ethical policy-making. The sex of a 5-7 week embryo can be determined by a new test about two months earlier than was possible with ultrasound. But should we use this new technology 'just because it is there?'
  • Sex selection liberally ok but not without problems. Sex selection fits with a liberal view of permission in reproduction, but using abortion as part of the process is less defensible and may degrade our value of human life.
  • Will easier access to more effective sex selection affect gender balance? Probably not. Increasing ease of travel to countries with lax rules on sex selection makes it possible for wealthy couples to have a baby of the desired sex. But surveys that ask whether people would prefer to have a boy or a girl show that, at least in Western countries, the sex-ratio is unlikely to change considerably.
  • Most people do not favour sex selection. Surveys conducted to date show that, overall, people have negative attitudes towards sex selection for non-medical reasons, particular if the method involves terminating a pregnancy.

Lyn Chitty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Genetics and Fetal Medicine at the UCL Institute of Child Health, London, says, "this Special Topic issue presents a range of papers that discuss the scientific, social and political implications of fetal sex selection. It begins by describing the technological advances that have made early non-invasive fetal sex determination a practical, reliable and safe option for women at high risk of sex-linked disorders if the test is performed in accredited a

Contact: Polly Young
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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