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Should parents be allowed to choose baby's sex?

26th May 2010

Stephen Wilkinson, Professor of Bioethics at Keele University, argues that couples should be able to choose the sex of their baby.

motherandbabyQ

There have been numerous folk myths over the years about how to influence the gender of a baby.

Things, however, have moved on somewhat today with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which involves creating several embryos outside the body and implanting only male or female ones or sorting sperm into male and female subgroups.

This is not available in the UK, unlike in some parts of the world.

While a ban on selection maybe justified in China or India, where the preference is for a male off-spring, it is not justified in the west where the preference for a boy or girl is roughly the same.

Moral objections to sex selection are often cited, others say it is sexist, but all arguments can be countered.

We do not in general believe it is wrong to shape positive things in life, so why apply that to a child.

It is not sexist either, just a preference.

Family balancing, where parents have three boys but want a girl, would not open the floodgates.

While I am not a sex selection enthusiast and do not think it should be encouraged or paid for by the NHS, the arguments for prohibiting it are not that strong.

But there is harm attached to a ban, leading to distress among people not being able to have the family of their choice.

We should allow sex selection in the UK within the context of our carefully regulated reproductive medicine sector.

 

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