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Should parents be able to choose the sex of their baby?

Juliet Tizzard

Progress Educational Trust

25 January 2003

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[BioNews, London] In case you hadn't already noticed, a public consultation has been taking place in the UK over the past few months. Your views are being sought as to whether couples should be able to choose the sex of their prospective children.

When a woman is expecting a baby, someone is sure to ask her whether she wants a boy or a girl. Some people genuinely don't mind which sex their baby is, whilst others have a clear preference. That preference might be motivated by vague notions of what boys and girls are like; it might be borne of a desire to balance up a family dominated by one sex; or it might be caused by real social and economic pressures. It's clear that some people really do care what sex their child is going to be. But is it right to act on that preference?

The organisation carrying out the public consultation, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), decided to launch an enquiry into social sex selection after news from the United States that American couples are now able to determine the sex of their baby before conception, by using a technique that sorts sperm according to the sex determining chromosome they carry. The technique isn't currently available in the United Kingdom. But if and when it is, how should we react?

Is it always wrong to choose the sex of one's child for reasons other than avoiding a serious genetic condition? What happens if a couple has two or more children of the same sex: should they be given special permission to sex select? And what about the effect of sex selection upon society; would it skew the sex ratios or lead to discrimination? Or might it offer a harmless option to those couples who feel strongly enough to act? To take part in the consultation, go to http://www.hfea.gov.uk/forPatients/Consultations/ where you can complete the online questionnaire or download the full consultation document.

If you miss the deadline to respond to the HFEA public consultation, you could come along to Progress Educational Trust's conference next week in London to take part in a public discussion on sex selection. We have a wide range of speakers and delegates, and it promises to be an interesting and lively discussion. You can visit http://www.progress.org.uk/events for the full programme. Please email Laura Riley at if you would like to attend. Delegates can pay on the door as long as they register in advance.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 25 January 2003   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
Customer Reviews (2)
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D. Wise Wun   04 October 2008

I am totally against it, it may satisfy the parent, and may even lower the abortion rate but it's like taking God's place, and it would have long-term ramifications, it would skew the male-female ratio, and might result in celibacy. and plus wouldn't we all just miss yelling the phrase: "it's a boy!" or "it's a girl!" . D. Wise Wun peace :)

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