Prenatal Gender Kit Available in U.S.

Special Report - June 18, 2009

Expectant parents in the United States can now purchase a urine-test kit at their local drugstore that promises to predict their unborn baby’s sex as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy, raising concerns that the test could lead to an increase in sex-selective abortions. Previously only available on the Internet in the U.S. and in other countries, the Intelligender “Gender Prediction Test” is now sold at pharmacy chains such as Walgreens and CVS at a cost around $35.00. It is packaged in a blue and pink box with the words “Boy or Girl” across the front, and described by its creator, Intelligender, as a “fun, affordable way to discover pink or blue” before a sonogram, which is typically performed at a doctor’s office around 20 weeks. The kit promises to determine the sex of an unborn baby in as little as 10 minutes, with a 78-80 percent accuracy rate. On its web site, Intelligender concedes that the kit should not be the final word on determining the sex of an unborn child, noting that it “does not recommend test users to make any financial, emotional or family planning decisions based on the test results!”

The over-the-counter availability of the gender test kit is not without controversy. While most expectant parents will probably use the test to help them determine how to paint the nursery, some have raised concerns that the kit could lead to an increase in sex-selective abortions by parents desperately trying to conceive a boy or girl, who do not view a 10-week old fetus as an unborn child, and/or by parents from specific cultures where boys are preferred over girls. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nine out every 10 abortions in the U.S. are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“Say a woman has three daughters and wants to get pregnant one last time to have a baby boy,” Jennifer Parks, co-director of Loyola University Chicago’s Programs in Health Care Ethics, told CNN.com in a recent article on the tests. “If she takes the test at 10 weeks, and it’s not the sex she wants, she may want to terminate and try again.”

A spokesperson for Intelligender, the maker of the test, told CNN.com that the company does not believe the kit will lead to an increase in sex-selective abortions, and noted that only two of the “hundreds of thousands” of emails they’ve received with questions about the kit included inquiries about abortion. 

Commenting on the gender test kits on the Fox News Forum blog, Father John Morris, a Fox News religion contributor and a Roman Catholic priest, said there needs to be greater regulation of these kits by the government. “Needless to say, there will be some men and women— great numbers, I fear—who abuse this scientific progress and choose to use the early knowledge of gender for selfish purposes,” Father Morris wrote. “The real controversy, then, should not be over whether the government should ban these tests, but what the government will do to supervise Planned Parenthood and other government-supported abortion providers as they deal with cases of women seeking abortions of pre-born children of an ‘undesired gender.’”

In related news, legislation that would ban abortions based on gender or race in this country has been introduced in the U.S. House. Sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2009,” or HR 1822, would oppose “criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly or knowingly attempts to: (1) perform an abortion knowing that the abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent; (2) use force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion; or (3) solicit or accept funds to finance a sex-selection abortion or a race-selection abortion.” H.B. 1822 currently has 28 cosponsors.

Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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