Saturday, March 24, 2012

Let fate decide

Choosing the sex of your baby stirs up many ethical questions
Imagine you are about to have your third child. You’ve already got two daughters, and are really hoping for a son.
Would you consider finding out the sex of your child in the early weeks so that you could abort the pregnancy if the fetus is another girl?
While the majority of Australians say no, for some families the answer is yes.
Sex selection is the attempt to control the sex of your children to achieve a desired gender.
It can be accomplished in several ways, both pre- and post-implantation of an embryo, and it is often called “family balancing”.
While there are a number of unproved methods of gender selection, such as sperm sorting and the timing of intercourse, the most common method is preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in which embryos are created outside the womb and can then be tested for genetic disorders and gender. This is the only method which has 100 per cent accuracy.
In Australia, it is illegal to use this technology for sex selection purposes other than for medical reasons. 
The use of PGD in this country is allowed only in cases where parents suffer serious genetic diseases that can be passed to children of one gender.
However, this means that dozens of Australians travel to Thailand and the US each year and spend thousands of dollars to choose the sex of their children.
A study undertaken in 2010 by the University of Melbourne found that 69 per cent of people surveyed disapproved the use of IVF for sex selection, with the disapproval rate increasing to 80 per cent for sex-selective abortions.
Headed by Dr Rebecca Kippen, the study analysed responses from more than 2500 people.
“Opposition to these technologies was grounded in three major concerns: the potential for distorted sex ratios; that sex selection can be an expression of gender bias; and a concern about ‘designer infants’ being created, when parents should be happy with a healthy baby,” she said.

Gender selection stirs up ethical debates about the rights of unwanted embryos and worries that widespread use of sex selection methods could skew the ratio of men and women (which has happened in places like China and India).
Sadly in some countries, children deemed to be the wrong sex are killed, abandoned or given up for adoption.
The PGD procedure is expensive, therefore if sex selection was legal it would only be available to certain groups in society.
There is also the question of whether sex selection will set a precedent for genetic engineering in the future.
For those parents who are desperate to see the ban lifted in Australia, gender selection in their eyes creates happier families, fewer unwanted children, balanced two-child families, better population control and an improvement in the status of women since they have been “chosen” to be born.
Well, on this I call bullshit.
I can’t help but wonder what sort of parents are happy to spend thousands of dollars on PGD treatment just to get a boy or a girl. 
There are couples out there who struggle enough just to have one healthy baby, let alone have the luxury of choosing the gender of their child.
In my opinion, each and every child is a blessing and if having a child of a particular gender is more important than the life you’ve created, then I’d be questioning your right to be a parent.
Would your child of the wrong gender be told they were not wanted, be treated like the boy or girl they were “supposed to be” or be made to feel unloved?
It would be disastrous if extreme examples of gender bias spread to Australia, so let’s appreciate the children we have now. Parenting is a privilege, not a right.
Whether you’ve got a little football team and pine for a ballerina, or have a house full of pink and wish there was a hint of blue, there’s nothing left to do but appreciate the gifts you have been given, and try again!


Anonymous said...

Bullshit to you too for the inaccurate article. Life is full of choices and every home is different. As an IVF parent my in-depth research confirmed the majority of IVF parents would have preferred gender selection if it was:
(a) did not limit the chance of becoming a parent
(b) was readily available in Australia and
(c) was available at an affordable price.
Not that I expect any IVF parent to complain about the gender of whatever bundle of joy we managed to receive.

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