Global Legal Responses to Prenatal Gender Identification and Sex Selection

32 Pages Posted: 30 May 2023

Date Written: December 19, 2012


Over one hundred million women in the world are estimated to be “missing” from the world’s population due to some form of gendercide. Gendercide exists on almost every continent and affects every class of people. Gendercide has traditionally taken the form of sex-selective abortion, infanticide, or death caused by neglect. Sex-selective abortions occur when a pregnancy is terminated due to the sex of the fetus. In the last few decades, technological advances have allowed potential parents to identify the gender of their baby early in the first trimester. Recently, with the advent of newer technology that allows one to choose a baby’s gender, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (“PGD”) and MicroSort, it is possible for those who can afford it to select their child’s gender instead of resorting to getting rid of a fetus of an unwanted gender. This Article examines the issue of gender selection technology. If the technology is available to choose a child’s gender, is there any reason to restrict access to such technology? Does the answer depend upon how the technology is being used? Many countries have attempted to curb this issue through legislation restricting sex-selective abortions, and some have even gone further to restrict access to ultrasound and other gender identification technology. This Article provides a global overview of such restrictions and examines their bioethical implications. Part I of this Article discusses the practice of sex selection and its impact worldwide. This part examines the impact of sex-selective practices on birth rates in various countries, including the United States. Then, Part II outlines the technological methods available to identify or even choose a child’s gender and what this means for the practice of sex selection. Part III discusses legal efforts to restrict sex selection in India, the United States, and other countries around the world. Part IV analyzes these legal efforts through a bioethical lens, specifically giving consideration to autonomy, justice, and class issues. Although the practice of sex-selective abortion or sex selection is certainly disturbing, this Article concludes that restricting access to the technology that allows sex selection is not an effective answer.

Funding Information: None to declare.

Conflict of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: sex selection, gender selection, Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, Sex Selectice Abortion, MicroSort

Suggested Citation

Mohapatra, Seema, Global Legal Responses to Prenatal Gender Identification and Sex Selection (December 19, 2012). 13 Nevada Law Journal 690 (2013), Available at SSRN:

Seema Mohapatra (Contact Author)

SMU Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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