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Case Study: Using Fetal DNA for Gender Selection

Dexter and Susan are the parents of four healthy girls. During all four pregnancies, they had ultrasounds performed during the 20th week of pregnancy to determine the gender of the baby. Susan is pregnant again, and she and Dexter want to learn the gender of the newest addition to their family. They’ve heard about new technology that will determine the sex of the baby from a blood test based on tiny pieces of fetal DNA that are circulating in the maternal blood supply. The test can be performed as early as the seventh week of pregnancy. Dexter and Susan make an appointment with their obstetrician to ask about the test. Their OB recalls that the couple had been hoping for a boy during the last three pregnancies and is surprised that Susan is pregnant again. While asking about the gender test, Susan seems uncomfortable and looks at the floor a lot. Their doctor begins to suspect that they want the early gender test in order to terminate the pregnancy if it is another girl. When pressed, Dexter and Susan deny that this is their intention, but their doctor is not convinced.

If you were their doctor, what would you do?

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