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Gender Selection via PGD Differs from Sex-Selection Abortion

February 25, 2013

There has been a recent buzz in U.S. reproductive health news on the controversial topic of sex-selective abortion as introduced to the Kansas Senate in an effort to ban this procedure.

The bill was approved by Kansas Senate (37-2) on Wednesday which will prohibit doctors from aborting a pregnancy for the sole reason that the mother-to-be does not want a baby of a specific sex. The first time a doctor is convicted of performing a sex-selection abortion, he or she will be slapped with a misdemeanor charge. However, if convicted again, felony charges will ensue. Women electing to have the procedure done will not be prosecuted.

You might be wondering: “How is this different from gender selection performed by a fertility doctor in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure?” There are several clear-cut differences, despite the fact that gender selection is also an ethically charged issue.

Sex-selection abortion is performed once the fetus has begun to grow inside the mother’s womb and likely several weeks into the pregnancy when physicians are able to predict the sex of the baby via blood tests, tissue sampling, or ultrasound.

Gender selection, which can be performed for medical or social reasons, is an elective procedure that can be performed during IVF. Using a cell biopsy and genetic screening technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the embryo is tested before it is transferred into the uterus where it is given the chance to implant and develop into a pregnancy.

Fertility clinics in the United States vary in their views on when gender selection should be offered. Some clinics will only offer gender selection as it pertains to medical concern for sex-linked genetic diseases. On the other hand, some clinics offer gender selection as a means of family balancing- giving the parents of a little boy the opportunity to have a little girl in their next pregnancy and vice versa. Here is a summary on how gender selection is not like sex-selective abortion:

  • Gender selection is performed via PGD in a cell biopsy.
  • Gender selection is performed before pregnancy.
  • Gender selection can be done for medical reasons to reduce the risk of miscarrying an embryo with sex-linked genetic abnormalities.
  • Gender selection is also offered for family balancing. This is done before the embryo is transferred into the uterus (before pregnancy).
  • Some fertility clinics offer or require patients to donate embryos of the undesired sex, if otherwise healthy, to another couple or to research.

Just like the abortion debate, gender selection comes with moral and ethical issues. Couples should do what feels comfortable to them.

Read: Medical and Social Reasons for Gender Selection

Looking for a fertility doctor who specializes in gender selection? Contact our Patient Care Coordinators by calling 1-855-955-BABY (2229) or by filling out the Contact Fertility Doctors Near Me form.


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