Over at New America Media, Viji Sundaram reported on a continuing trend in medical tourism, where middle-income South Asian families shop for designer baby boys to help “complete” their families. As Sundaram explains, while some women go through with the procedure on their own accord, many are swayed by other factors:
Especially for those with roots in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, sex selection is often not freely chosen. Women are frequently coerced, overtly or subtly, to guarantee the prize their husbands desire above all else—a son.
Of the more than 400 fertility clinics in the United States, nearly three-quarters offer PGD, according to a 2006 survey by the Genetics and Public Policy Center (GPCC), in Washington, D.C. And of those offering PGD, 42 percent do so for gender selection purposes, said Susannah Baruch, the group’s law and policy director.
The deep-rooted cultural bias against daughters has noticeably skewed the female-to-male ratio in some states in India, particularly in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where an estimated 160,000 baby girls are reportedly killed every year. In 2001, males in India outnumbered females by about 35 million.
ColorLines reported back in 2007 that the trend is a deeply feminist issue.
“It is important to have a critical discussion of the implications of reproductive technologies, especially for women of color,” Sujatha Jesudason of the Center for Genetics and Society said at the time. “Because if we don’t, then we as a society let the market determine what is acceptable instead of challenging the current and future misuse of technology that is growing increasingly sophisticated. This is a deeply ethical and feminist issue.”