It's a Boy! (With All the Extras You Ordered)

Ian Ayers recently blegged you about boy-specific or girl-specific Happy Meal toys from McDonald’s.

But forget about toys; when was the last time your doctor asked if you’d like to choose your child’s sex?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a Los Angeles clinic that will soon let parents choose the sex of their unborn children. Their designer options also include physical traits including hair color, eye color, and even skin color.

This raises a mountain of questions, ethical and otherwise. But what might the unintended consequences be? Dubner and Levitt have written about how sex-specific abortions in Asian countries have created a huge gender gap in countries like India, China, and Pakistan. Would a designer-baby boom create a gender gap here — and in which direction?

If your doctor gave you the choice to customize your unborn child to your preferences, would you take it? And what would you choose?


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  1. Tucker says:

    How about avoiding unwanted genetic conditions that my child would otherwise be subject to – cancer, high cholesterol, hair loss, those kind of things.

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  2. Imad Qureshi says:

    A little correction. Pakistan has more women than men. Population distribution is about 51% women and 49% men. Data is about 10 years old. Not that my country is in good shape or we don’t have discrimination against women but I don’t think we have abortions because of baby’s sex. Most people are not even able to afford an ultrasound that would tell them the sex of baby.

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  3. Leopoldo says:

    Would it be useful if we can choose what extras NOT to have?
    Certain conditions or deceases that we might inherit from generations a go like hearth decease, predisposition to diabetes and any kind of cancer would be the first ones to remove.
    Knowing what you do not want makes room for more joy in your life. Imagine if we can control this; what would be the health insurance premium rate of this “desing-human” with zero chance of getting any of these conditions? What would be the impact in the country’s health system? this is the research we have to encourage.

    As of all of the other I will leave it to chance like my wife and I did last year and got blessed with Identical Twin Girls.

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  4. Travis says:

    My wife and i already have a son, who is 18 months old. We had always planned to have two kids, and wanted both a boy and girl. I think we would seriously consider being able to choose the sex of a second child.

    I can’t say if we would choose any of the physical traits, but I am not vehemently opposed to the idea.

    The article says that there were 137 clinics in the US offering the service of gender selection, so data ought to exist on preferences. Whether a gender gap would be created also depends on the cost. If very few can afford the service, the effect would probably be negligible.

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  5. Jack says:

    @C. Larity Adamantium claws? That’s just silly. Everyone knows that those aren’t controlled by genetics. You’ll have to put the baby through a special surgery after the birth for that option. However you may want to go ahead with the genetic option of regenerative healing factor though, otherwise the child may not survive the surgery.

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  6. Chris says:

    Can I have a genetically perfect child please. And make every other child genetically perfect. Then we can all be exactly the same. That would be fun right? All the same? Like robots?

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  7. deriuqer says:

    There would be some incentives to form coalitions between doctors and wives or doctors and husbands. I’d try to bribe the doctor to make me a dog. And when my wife would discover that, it would be already too late… Picture the conversation to go something like: honey, I know you are allergic, but what are you gonna do now? Its our baby!

    Or maybe I’d ask him to get me a motorcycle. Can they do this?

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  8. Patrick says:

    If I were going to have a third child, and if I’d had two boys or two girls previous, I would be tempted to choose the sex of the third child (so as not to have the same sex as the others). As it stands, I have “one of each” so I wouldn’t bother to ‘spec’ the third child. I would not be comfortable with choosing hair color etc.

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