Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 31 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Ignatius Loyola
home iconNews
line break icon

The $50,000 Daughter

Deann Barrera CC

Rachel Lu - published on 11/18/14 - updated on 06/07/17

The cost of the "perfect family" is steep, financially and morally.

From the time she was a small girl, Jayne Cornwill wanted to be a mom. That sounds sweet, but wait for the rest of it. She didn’t want to mother just any child. She specifically wanted a little girl.

She was close to her mother. She dreamed of her own “little mummy’s girl." After her first son was born she “wasn’t too disappointed” because she assumed (rather oddly) that the next child would be a daughter. But after two more boys came, she grew desperate, and she and her husband left their native Australia to travel to California for “gender-selection treatment.”

In a world with in-vitro fertilization, many things are possible. Among them, we can demand (for a price) children of our preferred sex. The concept, at least, is diabolically simple. The mother’s eggs are harvested, fertilized, and grown to the point where the sex can be determined. Embryos of the unwanted sex are then discarded, while a few healthy eggs of the desired sex are transferred to the mother’s womb. The implantation isn’t always successful, so parents must be prepared to spend a substantial sum for their dream child. To obtain their much-desired daughter, the Cornwills went through two rounds of IVF and spent $50,000.

To Catholics, it should be clear that this practice is gravely immoral, most especially because it involves the callous disposal of unwanted babies. The Cornwills were dissatisfied with the children that were naturally born to them. Their solution was to bring into being a whole host of unique, precious children, so as to give themselves the “pick of the litter." The rest of their newly-created offspring were most likely just thrown away.

Even for those who deny the value of immature human lives, Cornwill’s manifesto (which was intended as an argument for legalizing gender-selection in Australia) should set off multiple alarm bells. Her entire perspective on maternity and family is so obviously unhealthy that no reasonable person could read this as an argument for gratifying her tyrannical demands. Let’s consider a few of the more obviously defective ideas that Cornwill unashamedly sets out in her reflection.

“Ever since I was little,” she relates, ”my only goal in life was to have a daughter, and as an adult that desire only grew stronger. I come from a mixed-gender family with two older brothers and an older sister, and I saw the benefits of growing up with both perspectives. I also think society pushes the idea of the "perfect" family being two parents, with two children — one boy and one girl. I certainly thought so.”

We already know that Cornwill’s idea of a “perfect” family is fanciful to the point of absurdity; she’s admitted that she assumed her second child would be female simply because the first was male. Clearly, that kind of reality avoidance is unhealthy. My attention was arrested, however, by her observation that children are better off “growing up with both perspectives." That is, she thinks it beneficial to have both a male and a female presence within a family.  

I would agree. But mightn’t it be more natural and appropriate to achieve that balance among… the parents? When a family begins with the uniting of man and woman (as has been the near-ubiquitous custom throughout history, until the present day) a complementary male and female “perspective” is established from the very beginning, and it isn’t necessary to impose such inflexible conditions on what sort of children we’re willing to accept. Same-sex marriage isn’t the subject of Cornwill’s piece, but she notably doesn’t mention “mother” and “father” as established elements in her perfect family. She herself has a husband. Even so, one wonders whether gender-selection treatment might, for her and others, be a kind of back-door way of validating the importance of gender complementarity.

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.