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It’s a Boy! (With All the Extras You Ordered)—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

The following commentary was published in The New York Times on February 13, 2009.

It’s a Boy! (With All the Extras You Ordered)
By Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayers recently blegged you about boy-specific or girl-specific Happy Meal toys from McDonald’s.

But forget about toys; when was the last time your doctor asked if you’d like to choose your child’s sex?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a Los Angeles clinic that will soon let parents choose the sex of their unborn children. Their designer options also include physical traits including hair color, eye color, and even skin color.

This raises a mountain of questions, ethical and otherwise. But what might the unintended consequences be? Dubner and Levitt have written about how sex-specific abortions in Asian countries have created a huge gender gap in countries like India, China, and Pakistan. Would a designer-baby boom create a gender gap here — and in which direction?

If your doctor gave you the choice to customize your unborn child to your preferences, would you take it? And what would you choose?