They told the world they chose to have a baby girl.
Now, singer John Legend and his pregnant supermodel wife, Chrissy Teigen, are defending their decision to choose a female embryo during in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Last week, in a candid interview in which Teigen opened up about the couple’s difficulties with conceiving, the outspoken model also divulged that they chose their baby’s sex.
“I’ve made this decision. Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, ‘Let’s put in the girl,’” Teigen told PEOPLE in an interview last week.
“I think I was most excited and allured by the fact that John would be the best father to a little girl. That excited me,” Teigen said.
Teigen says she was bombarded by social media attacks from people who insisted that she “threw away” healthy male embryos, or that the celebrity couple is taking advantage of resources others can’t afford and don’t have access to.
So how common is gender selection during IVF in Canada? Turns out, Canadian doctors aren’t allowed to disclose the sex of an embryo during the procedure, according to Dr. Heather Shapiro, president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. She’s also a fertility expert at Mount Sinai Hospital and a professor at the University of Toronto.
“The Canadian values system is that we value females and males equally and these techniques are to be used for situations where there’s an incompatibility with life or a major compromise to life and we would not see sex as one of those things,” Shapiro told Global News.
Fertility treatments in Ontario, for example, are covered through government funding, under certain conditions. Genetic testing is readily available to check for medical conditions, but this technology is reserved for screening for risk of miscarriage or complications in a baby’s health.
While doctors can easily check on the sex of an embryo by day five, that information is withheld by law, Shapiro said.
She’s asked by expectant parents all the time.
“There are lots of people who daydream of what their family would look like so it’s not uncommon,” Shapiro said.
In the meantime, Teigen told ABC News that she “didn’t realize” gender selection was such a hot-button issue.
“I said it so casually that I didn’t anticipate all the people who had never heard of such a thing before,” she said.
“We’re happy with our decision and we’re proud of it and we’re glad that we’re living in a time where we could do such a thing. But it’s weird, we definitely didn’t anticipate any kind of backlash from it.”