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The pitch could not be more direct. The intended audience could not be more specific.

"Desire a Son?" asked an advertisement in recent editions of India Abroad, a weekly newspaper for Indian expatriates in the United States and Canada.

"Choosing the sex of your baby: new scientific reality," declared another in the same publication. A third ad ran in both India Abroad and the North American edition of The Indian Express. "Pregnant?" it said. "Wanna know the gender of your baby right now?"

Some people would call it niche marketing — an effort by companies to promote their products to one of the country's fastest-growing ethnic groups.

But the products in question are not chewing gum or financial services. They are procedures to preselect the sex of a child or, in the case of one advertiser, to identify the sex of the fetus as early as five weeks into a pregnancy. And the target market is immigrants from India, where sex-determination tests were outlawed seven years ago in a still unsuccessful effort to thwart the widespread practice of aborting female...