Gender Selection: Should It Be Allowed?

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GENDER SELECTION is the attempt to control the sex of a fetus to achieve a desired gender of an unborn child. There are many different medical, social, economic or cultural circumstances which put couples under the most intense pressure to produce a child of a specific gender. Here at Women UK we look at the reasons for and the reasons against Gender selection on our most recent debate.

THE CASE FOR:

Gender selection allows couples to have the number of boys and girls they want in their family without having to ‘try again’. Gender selection allows the desired gender in the order you want. Many couples have a preference related not only to how many children of each gender they want, but also for the order of boys and girls. Family balancing is a major reason many people choose gender selection. If we are all to be totally honest, most people will have a preference for a specific sex for their children be this for social, economic, cultural or family balancing.

Enjoying the freedom to choose the sex of their baby can be, for a variety of reasons, including avoidance of passing on a gender specific disease, feeling that they are better suited to raise a certain gender, economic and social influences or just mere preference.

Why shouldn’t would-be parents be able to choose the sex of their child, given that no harm is done to others by their decision?

Some parents are carriers of known sex-specific diseases. It is obviously in the child’s interests that they don’t have such a condition. Determining its gender can ensure that. Many families have predispositions towards certain common conditions that are more likely in one gender than another, and these can be avoided too. Nearly all neurodevelopmental diseases are either more common in one gender or more severe among one gender. Arthritis, heart disease and even lung cancer also seem to be influenced by a person’s gender

Males disproportionately suffer from X chromosome problems because their body has no copy to fall back on. These range in nature from baldness and colour blindness to muscular dystrophy and haemophilia. Women are disproportionately affected by diseases of the immune system. The avoidance of producing a child with predispositions to illness or disease should be readily available for all involved.

In the UK sex or gender selection is only allowed for medical reasons.

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THE CASE AGAINST

There is a high cost to medically influenced gender selection and so it becomes a luxury for the rich. Where many couples now look abroad in order to take advantage of gender selection for their unborn children, this is often a lifestyle choice that cannot be afforded to many.

Freedom of choice is an important principle generally, but it should not be granted at the expense of unconditional love for one’s children. The pre-selection of gender is a threat to the core value of parenthood. Children should be loved because of who they are, not because they are exactly what we wanted of them. This is a recipe for disappointment further down the child’s life as no child can be exactly what we want as in the end we and they are human.

Sex-specific, generic diseases are only avoided a majority of the time, the process is not near 100 per cent accurate and therefore the medical benefits cannot be used without consideration of the medical costs. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis involves the development of embryos outside the womb, which are then tested for gender. One or two of the desired gender are then implanted in the womb. Those that are not of the desired gender, or are surplus to requirements are destroyed (typically, over a dozen embryos are used to select a single one to be implanted).

A human life has been created with the express purpose of being destroyed. This is another form of abortion – only the conception is deliberate. Nature has a way of surviving and to use medical advancement for the purpose of choosing the sex of our children manipulates the very essence of what our family should look like.

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