Once upon a time in a land far, far away when a couple was pregnant and expecting a child, they waited the full nine months to determine its sex. As technology advanced, it allowed expectant parents to test the embryo to ensure it wasn’t carrying any number of genetic defects, some of which are race/ethnicity specific, such as Tay-Sachs or Sickle Cell Anemia, and some of which are chromosomal imbalances, such as Down Syndrome or Turner’s Syndrome.
A by-product, if you will, of being able to rule out the possibility that serious illness could befall parents’ unborn children, was the ability to determine the embryo’s sex. Humans being the practical people they are surely only used all of the above information on their fetus for practical purposes. If knowing the sex of child meant being able to decorate the nursery ahead of time, it also meant being able to warn potential gift givers what colours to choose for the upcoming baby shower.
Although wrought with controversy, if parents knew ahead of time that their child had a genetic defect, they could choose what course of action to take. The question, of course, crosses all of our minds, “what if and therefore, what would you do?” And whose side do you land on? If parents could avoid a lifetime of heartache and pain, would they? A position no human being wants to be in and a decision to weigh that would not make the couple the envy of anyone in their circle of friends and family.
Technology or Doing the Unthinkable?
Favouring one gender over the other is nothing new. China is probably the country that comes to mind because of its one-child per family law. Several years into this law, the flaws of this “brilliant” concept are shining a spotlight on the controversies. Female babies left in dumpsters, parents aborting female babies, hoping their next will be a boy, and far more unthinkable actions are routinely carried out so families can bring home their little “blue” bundle of joy from the hospital.
Perhaps one of the few to enact laws around limiting the number of babies per family, China is far from the only country that favours blue over pink. Indeed many could argue that it is endemic in certain non-Anglo cultures.
With no interest in rolling the dice and playing the odds, parents all over the world are looking to fertility clinics to ensure what a woman’s body was apparently doing a dismal job of: purposely selecting for XY chromosomes over the seemingly less desirable XX. Once used solely for the purposes of allowing otherwise infertile women become pregnant, fertility clinics have discovered a way for parents who don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Your Country Banned Gender Selection? Pfft! Just Come to Ours! We’ll Hook You Up!
In 2004, Canada passed the Assisted Human Production Act, which bans the practice of in vitro for gender-selection, except in cases of gender-based disorders. For Canadian parents who want to circumvent the laws, they let their fingers do the walking and research clinics across the border who will – for a hefty fee – make all their dreams of having a baby boy come true.
Seeing how it can fill a niche they already know exists, a Washington-state based company decided to make it that much easier for families who have the desire but didn’t know where to look. During the week of April 16, 2012, the Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine placed an advert in the Indo-Canadian Voice targeting families who want to, “Create the family you want: boy or girl.”
Aware of the ban in place in Canada, this and other American fertility companies just like it, see themselves as supplying a need. It is well known that the Indo-Canadian community favours boys over girls and so why not advertise to them? There is a need, therefore a market and someone is happy to fill the need.