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Designer babies: Should gender selection be legal?

AUSTRALIAN couples are now travelling to the United States to access fertility clinics to choose their unborn baby’s gender.

While most couples are satisfied if they give birth to healthy baby – boy or girl – others yearn for a particular gender.

As well as being able to screen embryos for genetic diseases, the IVF pre-implantation technology allows parents to screen and select the sex of their baby.


Parents can use the technology in Australia for genetic diseases but gender screening practice is illegal unless parents are screening for gender-specific conditions such as haemophilia and dystrophy, which only affect boys.

And in the future parents may be able to do much more.

A US company 23andMe has patented a technology which claims to allow parents to select characteristics such as hair and eye colour and even personality traits.

Proponents of the technology say gender selection is a modern convenience but critics argue being able to design their own baby to order is playing God.

What do you think?

Should Australia follow the United States and allow parents to select the gender of their unborn child?

We’ve asked Courier-Mail writers their views and now it’s over to you.



Nathanael Cooper

Absolutely, why not. If the technology is there to do that, parents should absolutely be able to select everything about their child. Want brown hair and green eyes and the science can make that happen – go for it.

People need to stop living in the dark ages – you would have been burnt at the stake for watching television.

Crawl out of your cave and embrace the advances that science, technology and out-of-the-box thinking have given us. And for those that are going to use the God card against this argument – if God did indeed exist and didn’t want us to know how to pick gender, eye colour, personality traits... he wouldn’t have given us the knowledge to be able to do it.

Margaret Wenham

Tricky one but surely medical and scientific research and advancements should be put to use. Is there a significant difference between screening out (and discarding) embryos which contain faulty (disease-linked genes) via treatments like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and choosing the sex of a baby where, say, a couple have three boys and would like a girl? It’s not something I’d have done though, preferring the gender lottery ... which lottery presented me with three boys.

Michelle Collins

If we can order a double de-caff latte on soy with a twist of lemon, why not a caucasian blue-eyed boy with blonde hair?

Kelmeny Fraser

Like it or not some parents have their heart set on a perfectly balanced family when it comes to the gender stakes. With a twinge of reluctance – or in some cases outright resentment – they will continue to strive for this perfect balance, secretly bemoaning the fact that they have a football team of boys and not a fairy costume in sight (apologies for gender stereotype).

Or perhaps to appease a partner desirous of a prodigy in their image.

I speak not from experience, but from observation.

The woman with who kept trying for a boy after five girls, the tired mum of three girls who gave it one last go for a boy, only to wind up with another girl (whom she loves very much).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we just inserted a bit of science into it.

Let’s face it, this wouldn’t be the first time science took a front-row seat in the art of baby making. Albeit it would be quite a big step. But maybe the spin-off would be an every so slight slowdown in world population growth – or at least a reprieve from yet another home renovation to make way for another newbie.


Janelle Miles

I have no problem with people being able to choose the sex of a child in cases where there’s a family history of a gender-linked serious medical condition. Understandably, that’s legal in Australia. But there’s something selfish about gender selection so that couples can balance their families.

Call me old-fashioned, but surely the birth of any healthy child is a blessing, whether it’s a boy or a girl.Allow gender selection for non-medical reasons and it’s a slippery slope. What’s next? Let’s give couples the right to choose the eye colour, hair colour, intelligence level of their children. What about skin colour, height or personality traits? Where does it end?

It used to be when pregnant women were asked about whether they would like a boy or a girl, the common refrain was: “As long as it’s healthy, I don’t care.”

These days, we’re told of couples aborting healthy babies on gender grounds. Whatever happened to unconditional love?

Paige Carfrae

When I have children, I would like a girl and boy – and in that order. However, I will love whatever child I end up with regardless of gender because some things are just up to fate. What would happen if 75 per cent of the world’s population suddenly decided they wanted female children? Would the human race struggle to survive with a lack of men to reproduce with? Or would men be in some sort of nirvana, each sporting seven wives? The problem is where do you draw the line? Do people start getting the option to choose eye, hair, and skin colour? You can’t always choose what cards you’re dealt in life and the gender of a child is no exception. The only case it would be remotely acceptable to perform any kind of genetic modification would be if there was a genetic disease that was almost certain to impact a specific gender.

Regardless of whether the option is around when I have children, I’ll take the luck of the draw and be happy with what I’ve got. I’d be happy just to conceive because some people aren’t so fortunate.

Source: www.couriermail.com.au


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