If movies are any indication of our future, people will be
required to wear the one-piece silver jumpsuit, cars will be able
to fly through the layers of the atmosphere and babies will be
genetically engineered to be “perfect” human beings. While we all
laugh at these seemingly ridiculous ideas (one can hardly imagine
Britney Spears succumbing to clothing), the latter of the group is
already beginning to take a frightening shape. Where as the gender
of a child was once a much-anticipated surprise, new technology is
helping couples choose the sex of their next bundle of joy.
According to an article in Newsweek entitled “Brave New Babies,”
sex selection is now giving parents the opportunity to select
whether they want to paint the nursery pink or blue. Originally
introduced as a method for determining genetic diseases, sex
selection techniques are offered to those wishing to “balance their
families” and choose the sex of their child.
There are several methods for sex selection, the most expensive
costing a couple close to $20,000. Preimplantation genetic
diagnosis (PGD) involves mixing an egg and sperm in a lab dish to
produce embryos. The sex of the embryo can then be determined and
selected embryos can be implanted in the woman.
If a couple does not have the money to spend on this procedure,
the Genetics and IVF Institute (GIVF) boasts a technology that is
currently in an FDA trail called MicroSort. In this procedure, the
sperm is analyzed under the basis that the X-chromosome contains
more DNA than the Y. This allows researchers to determine which
sperm will produce male offspring and which female.
As does any technological “advance” involving the human being,
sex selection raises many ethical and moral dilemmas. First, many
fear that these sex selection procedures will lead to an unbalanced
number of males to females due to couples preferring one sex to
another. However, according to the article, couples are not overly
requesting one sex and it is unlikely that this procedure will tip
the sex balance over.
Another common predicament caused by this technology is the
issue of abortion. If embryos are created of the “wrong” sex, what
will become of these? Should they be aborted? Or perhaps should
they be donated for the advancement of science? Abortion is already
a tricky and touchy subject in the minds of Americans, and this
procedure only contributes to the thick clouds of this issue.
The last problematic question, and perhaps most foretelling of
the future of science, is how far can technology go before it
crosses the ethical line? Just because scientists can help couples
choose a baby’s sex, does that mean they should? If we allow people
to start choosing the sex, this selection could lead to genetic
technology that could produce babies more inclined to be smart,
tall or blue-eyed. Essentially, couples could choose how they want
their child. As clich� as it may seem, sex selection allows
scientists to start taking on a God-like role. While some see the
prevention of sex selection as a hindrance to the advancement of
technology and science, these procedures allow human beings to
disrupt the course of nature.
In addition, having a baby should not be like choosing a car.
Couples should not be able to decide on a car (the baby) and select
the different options (the sex.) These procedures treat babies as
if they are material products and just prove that nothing is sacred
from consumerism anymore.
On a less important note, sex selection takes away one of life’s
greatest surprises. In a society where people live by planners and
have a tendency to carefully plan out every single detail of life,
having a baby is one of the last true surprises we have.
While I know this topic doesn’t hit home with most of you at the
moment, the reality of kids may soon be in your future. You will
have to start saving now if you want that little boy to carry down
the family name with a “junior” attached at the end. In the
meantime, enjoy those science-fiction movies that attempt to
predict the future. If any of those movies ever end up being right,
one can only hope the future will include flying DeLoreans.
Stacey is a senior majoring in marketing. Her column runs every