New Technologies, Old Prejudices

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky August 29, 2007
Biopolitical Times
The Guardian (UK) reports on China’s increasingly skewed sex ratios. Among the “shocking new figures” released by the government-run news agency Xinhua: In 99 Chinese cities, there are more than 125 boys for every 100 girls among children aged one to four. The worst numbers are in Lianyungang, where the city’s ratio is an astonishing 165 boys for every 100 girls.

Sex selection in China is driven by a combination of traditional preference for sons and strict government policy that limits many couples to one child. An additional key factor is the availability of prenatal screening technology:
In the past, unwanted girls were abandoned. Now they are more likely to be aborted. As China has become wealthier, more couples have access to ultrasound checks.

In the United States, sex selection discriminates differently and increasingly relies on newer techniques. This week, researchers at the Universities of California, Irvine and San Diego announced a faster new method for sorting sperm, noting that it can be used to choose a boy or girl.

Fertility clinics now openly offer sperm sorting and embryo screening for “family balancing.” Parents explain that they long for girls so that they can have the experience of fixing their hair and painting their nails.

Does anyone find that shocking?