Concerns grow over at-home gender testing kits

The availability and increasing accuracy of kits that enable the prediction of the gender of a fetus raises fears over selective abortion.

United States: 

Late last month a bill that sought to make it a crime to perform or obtain a sex-selective abortion failed to pass a House vote. This is no surprise. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, sponsored by Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, required a two-thirds majority to pass, and was seen by some as primarily an attempt during an election season to force Democrats to take a public stand on a divisive issue. In short, it was meant to make politicians uncomfortable and make voters take notice.

But even though the bill may have been motivated by politics as well as ethics, it highlights one of the moral complications surrounding abortion that many pro-choice advocates would prefer to ignore: gender selection.

In 2008 The Los Angeles Times reported on a growing market for at-home genetic testing. In the article, women described their dissatisfaction over the inaccuracy of tests that claimed to determine the gender of a fetus as early as five weeks into a pregnancy. Some women who took the test were simply curious. Others were concerned about potential for diseases in one gender. Others acknowledged that some women might abort a child after learning the results.

Unfortunately, that article focused less on ethics than on customer satisfaction. A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011, however, found that some at-home gender tests were 99 percent accurate if conducted after seven weeks of gestation. Other tests were found by two studies to be 90 percent accurate after 10 weeks gestation. The lack of medical oversight and advice in the use of these tests is troubling, but the moral implications are even more so.

Source: America Magazine

Top Stories