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Fifteen weeks later, she asked a colleague at the hospital to sneak in an after-hours ultrasound.The results felt like a brick landing on her stomach: another boy.They coined the phrase “family balancing” to make sex selection more palatable.

The remaining seven cells will go on to develop normally if the embryo is chosen and implanted in a client’s uterus.

The lab is part of the Fertility Institutes, a clinic set up by Jeffrey Steinberg, one of the most prominent gender selection doctors in the United States.

But then the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a nonprofit organization that attempts to set standards in the industry, came out against prenatal sex selection for nonmedical reasons in 1994.

The group said the practice would promote gender discrimination and was an inappropriate use of medical resources. In 2009, Steinberg came under a worldwide media firestorm when he announced on his website that couples could also choose their baby’s eye and hair color, in addition to gender.

He revoked the offer after receiving a letter from the Vatican.

Steinberg seems to enjoy the attention, whether good or bad.

Inside a fourth-floor office suite off a palm-tree-lined street in Encino, Calif., in an embryology lab, two men wearing maroon scrubs peer into high-tech microscopes.

The men are fertilizing human eggs with sperm samples collected earlier that day.

After fertilization and three days of incubation, an embryologist uses a laser to cut a hole through an embryo’s protective membrane and then picks out one of the eight cells.

Fluorescent dyes allow the embryologist to see the chromosomes and determine whether the embryo is carrying the larger XX pair of chromosomes or the tinier XY.

It would cost tens of thousands of dollars, money Simpson and her husband did not have. That has certainly been the case in places like China and India, where couples have used pregnancy screening to abort female fetuses.

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