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Yes. Yes but.
  1. Barbara Katz Rothman
  1. Correspondence to Dr Barbara Katz Rothman, Department of Sociology, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036, USA; BKatzRothman{at}

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Yes. Yes absolutely. Yes but.

Yes I agree with every bit of this argument, and have in fact made it myself, (1986) over (1989) and over (2006) again.1–4 I can even argue that it is worse, yet more damaging than the author says, that knowledge of fetal sex damages pregnancy in some fundamental ways. So yes, yes, yes, it would have been a far better thing had these technologies never been invented.

But. They are. The train has left the station, the ship has sailed, the genie is out of the bottle and the fetus is out of the pregnancy.

That perhaps is one of the reasons this technology is more dangerous than originally thought or even than the author, focusing on the consequences of sex selection itself, can discuss here. A sexed fetus is a named fetus, a baby in all but the birth. Pregnancy is no longer the slow growth and eventual emergence of a baby, but a container for all-but-born babies, babies whose photos are posted, whose resemblances are noted, who all-but-walk among us.

Ask a group of people to draw a fetus in the air, just take their hands and sketch out the fetus. That familiar big head, curled body is traced. Then ask them to place the pregnant woman's image over that fetus, show where that fetus is …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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