Editorial: Choosing baby’s sex, unethical

Every little girl dreams of her future: her job, her wedding and her family. She may dream of having a little boy with her husband, but when she has an ultrasound, she is discouraged to find out she is going to have a girl instead of the boy she had always imagined raising. With the latest reproductive technology though, discouragement and disappointment can be ruled out of the picture.

The most recent reproductive advancement stems from in-vitro fertilization and allows parents to select the gender of their children. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is the name for the technology, which can detect gender. By creating embryos outside the womb, then testing for gender, scientists can separate the embryos that will produce males from those that will produce females, then implant the embryos of the desired gender. The process costs about $19,000 and is, amazingly enough, almost 100 percent accurate.

Granted, this is an amazing technology, but is it really necessary or even ethical? Scientists have already established relatively safe and effective ways of helping infertile people conceive infants. So why keep coming up with more ways to manufacture babies? If we stay on this track, having a baby is going to be like picking out the features on your new car. Once parents can choose the sex of their child, they will also want to select the baby’s eye color, height and hair color, and this is simply not right.

According to the Vatican “The Church respects and supports scientific research when it has a genuinely human orientation, avoiding any form of instrumentalization or destruction of the human being and keeping itself free from the slavery of political and economic interests.” Political and economic interests may play a role, however, if parents are given the opportunity to choose the sex of their baby. Many parents may opt to have a boy, believing that he would be more successful in the world. Such choices would upset the male-to-female ratio in the world and reduce the genetic diversity that is so important and so interesting.

The idea of parents customizing their babies to meet their preferences reminds us of all the blandness, boredom and predictability of “Brave New World.” Creating a child is not a construction process; it is a meaningful event between a man and a woman. The thin line between science and science fiction is being crossed with this latest reproductive technology. Perhaps, instead of researching how to customize babies, we as a society would do better to spend our time and money finding cures for pediatric diseases.