We haven’t quite reached Gattaca levels of gene manipulation, but a Southern California fertility clinic is inching toward some futuristic birthing techniques, The Wall Street Journal reports. The clinic, HRC Fertility, offers “family balancing, or nonmedical sex selection,” which is all kinds of bad. However, with clinics across the United States (one of the few countries where the practice is legal) also performing similar procedures, HRC is far from alone.
Family balancing is possible through in vitro fertilization (IVF), which means the egg is fertilized in a test tube and reintroduced into the women’s uterus. Because the process can be manipulated, IVF includes preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to test for preventable diseases. HRC and others have added the nonmedical sex selection to its PGD process.
Nonmedical sex selection is not huge just yet; a 2008 paper found that just 9 percent of 2005 PGD cycles included selection. Additionally, IVF costs upward of $20,000, according to the WSJ, which is a steep barrier. Still, the fact that it can exist is frightening, and despite the futuristic science involved, it promotes antiquated thinking. Sex and gender are not one. Assigning a child’s sex before birth (when, typically, the child is already assigned gender at birth) only cements a close-minded belief that people are born a certain way and should stay that way. Nonmedical sex selection is very dangerous socially (as well as likely damaging to the child — trans, cis, or any other identification). “Breeding” children is a staple of science fiction because it is just that — a dystopian nightmare.