As the despicable practice of female feticide increased in India, there was widespread revulsion against sex determination// tests of fetuses.
Five years ago the Indian Medical Association had asked its members to refrain from conducting sex-determination tests and aiding female feticide. No support would be extended to practitioners caught in the act, the IMA had warned.
The Indian authorities are wrestling with the problem, and here comes a report that such tests are being sold on the internet, essentially targeting the western parents.
Forget the agonizing 20-week wait for an ultrasound scan, in just six weeks you can know the sex of the child, the DNA Worldwide says and the test costs 189 pound sterling.
Brushing aside the criticism over the ethics of it all, the company says early results, obtained from a finger-prick of blood, allow parents more time to plan for their baby.
It boasts "One of the most exciting outcomes of recent genetic research, allows gender testing and is the discovery that there is fetal DNA in an expectant mother’s blood as soon as six weeks gestation all the way through to delivery of the child. During pregnancy, small amounts of the baby’s DNA pass into the mother’s blood stream; so with a finger prick from the mother, we can analyze the baby’s DNA. If DNA from a Y-chromosome is detected, we can confidently determine she will have a baby boy. If there is no DNA from a Y-chromosome, we can determine with equal confidence that she will have a girl. The early baby gender test is that simple."
It says the test is 99% accurate and offers a refund for wrong predictions.
The concept of an early pregnancy sex test is not new - last year the UK's Institute of Child Health successfully trialled a similar "seven week" test.
But this was used for women at risk of having babies affected by disorders that usually only affect boys, such as Duchene muscular dystrophy.
This test is very dangerous. It would inevitably lead to babies being aborted simply for not being the 'required' sex, warns Michaela Aston of the pro-life charity LIFE .
But David Nicholson, director of DNA Worldwide, said parents are excited by the pregnancy and don't want to have wait until their 20-week scan to find out.
Once a woman has taken the test, she sends her sample directly to the company's laboratory for analysis and will receive the result in the post or can access it online using a protected password.
Julia Millington of the Prolife Alliance said: "There is a real risk that some people would choose to abort babies of a certain gender."
Michaela Aston of the pro-life charity LIFE said: "This test is very dangerous. It would inevitably lead to babies being aborted simply for not being the 'required' sex."
She rejected the notion that the test would allow parents more time to plan for their baby's arrival, arguing that the needs of baby boys and girls were identical.
She was also concerned it would lead to some women in some countries being coerced into having abortions.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists believes sex selection for non-medical purposes is inappropriate.
A spokesman added: "Focus should remain firmly on the health and care of the mother and developing baby, rather than gender."
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