Why I'd pay $18,000 to have a girl

Canadians determined to choose the sex of their baby are flocking to fertility clinics in America. And it seems baby girls are the big ticket item in prenatal sex selection.

By Jenny Charlesworth
Why I'd pay $18,000 to have a girl Photo: manley099/iStockphoto

Prenatal sex selection — would you do it?

According to, Canadians are putting aside wishing and hoping (and wives tales) and taking matters into their own hands (with a little help from the U.S. medical system). Couples are heading south for expensive reproductive procedures to select the gender of their baby, and more often than not, they're picking pink.

In North America, boys are no longer big bucks. Everyone seems to want a little miss — even if it means taking out a second mortgage to finance that $18,000 gender selection procedure (reportedly the average cost at high-profile clinics), which was designed in the '90s to screen embryos for chromosome-linked diseases, and is still illegal for nonmedical reasons in Canada.

Megan Simpson, a Toronto mother of four who spent nearly four years and $40,000 (part of which was a loan) before she had a baby girl courtesy of gender selection, tells Slate: "She was worth every cent. Better than a new car, or a kitchen reno.”

Indeed, Slate points out that "data from Google show that 'how to have a girl' is searched three times as often in the United States as 'how to have a boy.'"

So, this is the part where you ask yourself, if you could scrape together the cash, would you pre-order your little bundle of joy? And would you opt for a frilly onesie or blue booties?

I, for one, am stumped.

After my mom passed away, my dad sort of made it known he'd really like her name to be passed on to a future grandchild. This falls on my shoulders since both my brothers already have pretty great — and complete — families. So what happens if I have a bunch of boys? Lynn isn't out of the question for a little guy but it doesn't feel quite right either. Is a baby name a reason to consider prenatal gender selection? 

What about the fact I always envisioned being a mom to a little girl (the books and special keepsakes I've collected usually have a girly theme. But, really, who sees a toy dump truck and thinks, "Ooohhh, this will be perfect for my hope chest!"). I always assumed having a girl would be healing for me, what with losing my own mom. It would be a way to honour and relive our special mother-daughter relationship.

But what about the magic of letting things unfold as they should? Who knows, maybe I was made for digging in the dirt, looking for worms, as the mom of some adorable little boy. And right there, is another reason to be wary of prenatal gender selection: those pesky gender stereotypes. Are prospective parents misguided about why they want a particular sex? (Note to self: Girls play in the dirt, too, Jenny.)

I'm obviously not ready to race across the border and pay Dr. I'll-give-you-a-girl a visit. But some Canadian parents are (gender selection in the U.S. brings in at least $100 million yearly, with 80 percent of patients requesting girls).

What would you do if you desperately wanted a girl? Would you pay big bucks to be able to pick your baby's sex?

This article was originally published on Sep 17, 2012

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