Do you want a boy or a girl? It's a seemingly harmless question for any would-be parent, a playful way to talk about the future. But it becomes a problem when certain preferences lead to sex-selection techniques like abortion.
Today’s NY Times reports small deviations in population amongst Americans of Chinese, Korean or Indian descent and suggests that the desire for boys, traditional in those cultures, is continuing amongst some families that settle in the U.S. Sex selection is illegal in India, and for years China too has tried to deal with the problem. But researchers are alarmed that the phenomenon has surfaced in America. The Times quotes Professor Lena Edlund of Columbia University: "That this is going on in the United States -- people were blown away by this."
Family matters are private, of course. What’s not private, though, and what is certainly troubling, is how American fertility clinics exploit the situation, “unabashedly advertis[ing] … services in Indian- and Chinese-language newspapers in the United States.” That may not be illegal. But it is unethical.