Future parents who feel compelled to know the sex of their fetus as soon as possible have a new avenue through which to do so. The new Pink or Blue gender pregnancy test claims to determine fetal sex only five weeks after conception, using a DNA test. Apparently, a pregnant woman’s blood is tested for traces of male DNA (this meaning that no men can be present during the blood test). If male DNA is present, she is having a boy. If not, it’s a girl.
Now, future parents wanting to know the sex of their unborn child is nothing new. Although I personally find this focus on the sex/gender of an unborn person to be somewhat unsettling, I can understand how it might also help certain people prepare for their new baby. Besides, if you are excited about a pregnancy, it makes sense that you might want as much information as possible. What is different about the Pink or Blue test is how soon the sex of a fetus can be determined.
Typically, the sex of a fetus is apparent on an ultrasound somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks into pregnancy. If Pink or Blue is to be believed, that date can now be moved up to only five weeks into a pregnancy. That means that future parents who are unhappy with the sex of their fetus will be given more time to have an abortion if they choose to do so. (I realize that abortions are possible at 20 weeks and beyond, but many people have fewer ethical qualms about first-term abortions than later-term ones.)
Let’s discuss some of the social implications of this test. First of all, its very existence is evidence of our cultural obsession with gender roles (we could have a whole separate discussion here about the “Pink or Blue” name of this product). According to the product’s website, this test is about “the joy of knowing.” But why is there such a joy in knowing? Why do we care so much? And why do we feel compelled to start the gendering process before a child is even born? Does it really matter that much? Should it?
In addition, there is the issue of gender selection. What does it mean for the culture at large when a woman takes measures to determine the sex of her baby? Should she base her decision to have an abortion on the gender of the fetus? When asked about the implications of a product like this on societies where sex ratios are already skewed toward males (like China and India), Pink or Blue spokesperson Terry Carmichael claimed that the product will not be sold in those countries. Doesn’t a claim like that highlight the insidious nature of the product? And why censor some countries and not others if this product is about “the joy of knowing”?