Sex selection comes to America

Birth graphic.jpgThe New York Times reports on apparent evidence of sex selection among Asian immigrants, a cultural holdover from their home countries:

The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent.

In those families, if the first child was a girl, it was more likely that a second child would be a boy, according to recent studies of census data. If the first two children were girls, it was even more likely that a third child would be male.


Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.

New immigrants typically transplant some of their customs and culture to the United States — from tastes in food and child-rearing practices to their emphasis on education and the elevated social and economic status of males. The appeal to immigrants by clinics specializing in sex selection caused some controversy a decade ago.

But a number of experts expressed surprise to see evidence that the preference for sons among Asian-Americans has been so significantly carried over to this country. “That this is going on in the United States — people were blown away by this,” said Prof. Lena Edlund of Columbia University.


What I don’t know about are laws–or lack thereof–governing sex selection. Later in the story, an increasingly controversial fertility doc, Jeffrey Steinberg, indicates he faces no problems ad has started offering sex selection services in New York.

“Culturally, there are a lot of strange things that go on in the world,” Dr. Steinberg said. “Whether we agree with it, it’s not harming anyone.”



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Steve T

posted June 15, 2009 at 9:48 am

I don’t know, this strikes me as rather creepy. Yet, do Americans have the right to dictate cultural values to others? At the same time, if you move to America do you not also have an obligation to adapt to some of our values?
I have no answers. Darn.

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posted June 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm

How very sad – I don’t understand why a man should be more valuable than a woman.
Then again, it was the christianists who first suggested that it would be OK to genetically alter a baby once we have in utero testing for sexual orientation.
That is a part of American culture which is also repulsive.

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posted June 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

… the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… is not very good, after all

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posted June 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

This is sad. I wonder how many of the girls were “gotten rid of.” Panthera made an interesting comment. What is the stand of the Catholic Church on genetically altering babies in utero to reduce the chance of the child being gay? Does the Church approve of this?

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posted June 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I would be curious about that, too. Given that all reputable scientists, medical doctors and psychologists are in agreement that homosexuality is neither an illness nor a disorder, I suspect only N azis like the fundamentalist Christians favor such monstrous behavior.
It is fascinating – here in Europe, I have full human status and my marriage is recognized and legal. In the US I am sub-human.

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posted June 15, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Are we responding to actual proof (i.e. Doctor’s input that this is routine) or interpretation of numbers. There are seven kids in my family with six of us sharing both parents. Our sequence is g,b,g,b,b,g. In other words there is no perfect science here. So I am wondering, did I miss something? Further, I am part of a faith community with a large Asian presence and I do not see anything abnormal in the distribution of g:b. Are we grasping?

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posted June 17, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Does it occur to the folks who are opting for a male child, that without female children there will be NO MORE MALE children, or for that matter, no more children at all?? Apparently China has many abortions done when an ultra-sound shows a female.(or they abandon the female child in an orphanage…supplying many Americans with children for adoption. That way the “parents” can try for that boy!
It never ceases to amaze me that there are still cultures in this world who find males “better” than females. Still hung up on men running the world, in some cultures I guess. How very sad. sex selection services? That is just plain sad too.

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