Well . . . not you. Not me either. I’m thinking of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame. And he’s just a fictional character, or at least he used to be.
A small but growing number of fashion-forward American parents are using fertility clinics to ensure that they get a child of the right sex. I don’t like much the IVF techniques that fertility clinics use anyway. I suspect that the extra embryos they create to discard are human beings. But picking your child’s sex seems like a particularly light reason to go through with IVF.
In fact, I think I would reject this new fashion even if no embryos were destroyed. I do not object to the use of medical technology to change the natural state of the body per se. I look forward to the day when medical science can act to prevent the genetic difficulties that afflict my near and dear ones. I am even open to the use of technology to make sure that everyone is born super-smart and radically fit (though I am not without nagging doubts). But I just can’t see tampering with the natural state of affairs to satisfy a taste or a preference.
There is no moral reason to prefer babies of a particular sex. Being whole is better than being handicapped and being smart is better than being dumb, true, but one sex is not better than the other. There’s no reason a parent would wish for their child’s sake that it would be born male or female. The only reason left, then, is the pure, unadulterated, self-satisfying whim of the parents, customizing the child to their pleasure, in obedience to the Great God who cries in the Marketplace, saying, before Abraham was I Consumed.
That may be a little overwrought. I’ll admit that. It’s just that I don’t see how parents can indulge their taste in genders or, soon, in eye color or voice timber or hair thickness, without starting to see their children at least a little as commodities who exist for the parents’ benefit. Some tendencies in our society already push us that way. The growing acceptability of childlessness, for one, tends to make the mere having of children a “lifestyle choice” and a consumer option. That’s one buzzard circling overhead. This IVF sex-selection is another. On the horizon other buzzards, as yet just black specks, are approaching.
The corpse is our transcendent humanity.