Letters: 'Sweet Caroline,' Gender Test

Many listeners wrote to say they felt "so good, so good, so good" about Sweet Caroline and the Red Sox. And Nell Boyce responds to listeners that felt not-so-good about a report on a test that promises to determine the sex of a child five weeks into a pregnancy.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Time now for your comments.

Last week, we reported on a biotech company that sells a test its says can determine the sex of a child as early as five weeks into pregnancy. We got a wide range of responses, including this one from Gillian Thomas(ph) of New York

Ms. GILLIAN THOMAS (Listener): I was shocked to hear your reporter explain that the real downside to getting faulty news about the sex of one's baby is that it could mislead women into having abortions. That sweeping conclusion was made without any statistical or other support. There's voluminous research about the reasons women get abortions, and sex selection just isn't one of them.

MONTAGNE: That's listener Gillian Thomas. We asked NPR's Nell Boyce, who reported the story, to respond.

NELL BOYCE reporting:

Gillian Thomas has a point. Studies show that here in the United States, women who have abortions are rarely, if ever, motivated by the desire to have a boy or a girl. One survey out this month from the Guttmacher Institute in New York surveyed over a thousand abortion patients. None say that the sex of the baby is a factor in their decision.

Still, bioethicists are worried about the issue. That's because sex selection through abortion does occur overseas. This month's New England Journal of Medicine, for example, reports that sex-selective abortion is widespread in China, even though it's illegal.

MONTAGNE: That story also should have pointed out that NPR was one of many media outlets that, back in June, repeated the maker's claim that the test is 99.9 percent accurate.

On a completely different note, Michelle Scott(ph) of Washington DC, wrote that at first she was puzzled about Kathy Lohr's use of the phrase `continental divide' in her story about plans for a new highway through Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. `I, probably like many listeners, am used to thinking of the Continental Divide as the great divide through the Rocky Mountains,' she writes. `So I had to look it up to be sure, and stand corrected. It would have been helpful for her to reference the Eastern Continental Divide, which, in fact, does determine whether water runs to the Gulf or to the Atlantic. Nevertheless, thanks for the lesson.'

And now a correction. In Mara Liasson's story about John Roberts' confirmation, she said that Roberts would get more no votes than any other Supreme Court nominee in two decades. She should have said that Roberts would get more no votes than any other confirmed nominee in 19 years.

Finally, a lot of you responded on our story on the mysterious connection between Boston's Red Sox and Neil Diamond's song "Sweet Caroline." Sharon Dubowski(ph) of Stanhope, New Jersey, captured the way most of you felt.

Ms. SHARON DUBOWSKI (Listener): After so much devastating news regarding hurricanes and Iraq, it felt so good, so good, so good to smile about a news story.

(Soundbite of recent broadcast)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) ...never seemed so good.

Unidentified Man and Crowd: (Singing) So good, so good, so good...

Unidentified Man: (Singing) I'd be fine...

MONTAGNE: If you would like to comment on something you hear on MORNING EDITION, go to npr.org and click on `Contact us.'

(Soundbite of "Sweet Caroline")

Mr. NEIL DIAMOND: (Singing) Sweet Caroline. Good times never seemed so good.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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