Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are having a boy. Us Weekly claimed they couldn’t have had anything but — they only implanted male embryos during the IVF process.
“Kanye loves Nori” — daughter North — “more than anything, but to make his world complete, he wanted a little boy, an heir,” a source told the magazine.
Kardashian has denied the story, but even if it’s not true, does it give anyone else pause that it’s even possible that the gender of a child can be selected like an item off a menu?
“Designer babies” are discussed as some kind of future proposition, an ethical problem for our grandchildren. But they’re happening now, with barely a peep of protest.
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, more than 160,000 IVF procedures were performed in the US in 2012 and more than 60,000 babies resulted from them. That’s 2,000 more than in 2011.
And that’s at a time when the overall birth rate is declining. Of course, it’s precisely because women are putting off childbearing until later in life that IVF has become a more important tool for reproduction.
All those IVF births offer “features” old-fashioned conception does not. You can screen for genetic abnormalities and diseases as well as to choose the gender of your children.
As for the former, who could object? Would you want a child to suffer a debilitating illness, or, more selfishly, endure yourself the pain and responsibility?
But the results of these kinds of choices can be seen by looking at the history of children born with Down syndrome. Thanks to genetic testing early in pregnancy, more than 90% of children with the genetic abnormality are aborted.
This, despite the fact that children with Down syndrome now have a life expectancy of 60.
As George Will remarked on the 40th birthday of his eldest son, who was born with Down syndrome, “This era [of Roe v. Wade] has coincided, not just coincidentally, with the full, garish flowering of the baby boomers’ vast sense of entitlement, which encompasses an entitlement to exemption from nature’s mishaps, and to a perfect baby.”
Some Americans feel uncomfortable with the idea of choosing the sex of children. In 2010, the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill banning sex-selective abortions, but a number of states, including North Dakota and Kansas, have enacted such bans. New York has no regulations on sex-selection at all.
Millions of female babies have been aborted in countries like China and India, either because of a one-child policy or preference for boys, generating outrage around the world.
But now there is evidence to suggest some countries, like South Korea, are selecting for girls.
“Most people of all political persuasions will decry sex selection in India and China as a result of patriarchal society,” says Christopher White, the New York-based director of research and education at the Center for Bioethics and Culture. But “here in the Western world, the language of convenience and choice becomes an ultimate trump card.”
Click here to read more.