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It’s Illegal in Most of the World. In America, New Parents Are Embracing It—for Better or Worse.

🌈 Abstract

The article explores the growing trend of sex selection through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United States, particularly the desire of some women to have daughters. It discusses the motivations behind this trend, the ethical debates surrounding it, and the business aspects of the fertility industry catering to this demand.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Desire for Daughters

1. What are the main reasons why some women want to have daughters through IVF?

  • Many women want to have a close, lifelong friendship with their daughters, which they feel may not be possible with sons.
  • Some believe that raising daughters is easier and that girls are less likely to engage in problematic behaviors like mass shootings or idolizing controversial figures.
  • There is a perception that daughters are more likely to have positive traits like empathy, social skills, and kindness.
  • Some women want to "balance" their families by having a daughter after having one or more sons.

2. How do these women's views on raising sons vs. daughters compare?

  • Many of the women interviewed expressed a "repulsion" towards the idea of having a son, believing that boys are more prone to "toxic masculinity" and are less likely to have strong relationships with their parents.
  • There is a belief that raising a daughter is a "social good" that can help address gender inequality, as the oldest child is often the most successful.
  • Some women hope that having a daughter will positively influence their sons and make them into "better men."

3. What are the potential concerns raised about this desire to select for daughters?

  • Selecting for a child's sex based on stereotypes can reinforce harmful gender norms and limit the child's ability to express their true identity.
  • Parents may have unrealistic expectations about the personality and behavior of their future daughter, and be disappointed if she does not fit their idealized vision.
  • The child may rebel against the gendered expectations placed on them by their parents' sex selection.
  • Parents who have invested heavily in selecting for a daughter may struggle to accept the child if they later come out as transgender.

[02] The Fertility Industry and Sex Selection

1. How prevalent is sex selection through IVF in the United States?

  • It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of patients who choose IVF solely for sex selection, as clinics are not required to report this data.
  • However, many clinics offer sex selection as a standard service, and some estimates suggest it accounts for up to 15% of their patients or as much as $500 million in annual revenue for the industry.

2. What factors have contributed to the growth of sex selection through IVF in the US?

  • The fertility industry is largely unregulated and driven by market forces, with many clinics owned by private equity firms and hedge funds.
  • The availability of IVF benefits from tech companies has made the procedure more accessible for some patients, like those interviewed who would not have considered it otherwise.
  • Clinics have an incentive to market sex selection as a service to expand their customer base beyond those struggling with infertility.

3. How does the US approach to sex selection through IVF differ from other countries?

  • Most other industrialized nations, including Canada, Australia, and European countries, ban sex selection except for rare medical reasons, seeing it as promoting sexism and potentially skewing the population.
  • In the US, sex selection is framed as a matter of personal autonomy and reproductive choice, despite concerns from medical associations about the ethical implications.
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