A new test that claims to reveal a baby's sex just seven weeks from conception could be a double-edged sword.
The 300-pound blood test causes no harm to the foetus and reveals the sex in just seven weeks compared to 20 weeks taken by the conventional ultrasound scan, reports the Daily Mail.
The test, reportedly already available in parts of the U.S., Israel and some European countries, checks for the male 'Y' chromosome from the unborn child's DNA which can be detected in the mother's blood.
Campaigners have warned that discovering the sex at such an early stage in the pregnancy may encourage some women to abort their unborn child if they find out it is not the sex they were hoping for.
Dr Esther Guetta, of the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, which is offering the test to patients, said, "If a woman wants and can afford the test, you could say it would be unethical to prevent her from getting it."
"The easier it is to find out the sex of the child, the earlier a woman can decide to take action. There have long been problems of gendercide in countries such as India and China where female foetuses are aborted. This test could encourage it," said Josephine Quintavalle, founder of the pro-life Comment on Reproductive Ethics group.
One gynaecologist, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "Performing the test at such an early stage opens up an immoral and unethical choice to couples interested in a baby of a specific sex to abort the pregnancy and try again."
But a spokesman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said that there was no evidence that women are opting for abortion on the grounds of gender in the country.
Professor Abraham Steinberg, director of the Center for Medical Ethics in Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem said, "We must remember that the foetus's sex is not considered a legitimate reason for an abortion, so those who want to do so will have to do it illegally."