Should parents be allowed to choose the sex of their children?
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Should Parents Select the Sex of their Siblings?
Children sex selection is a controversial topic across the world, and it is viewed as both a blessing and a curse. As a blessing, the parents are given the liberty to choose what gender of children they want to bear. However, there is quite a good population that views the exercise and vice in the society that leads to sex imbalance in the society as well as an evil for religious matter; ’playing God.’ The sex selection though not banned or accepted in some countries continue to happen outside those countries. For instance in the UK, the couples go overseas to be treated for sex selection of their children since there lacks a regulation for that practice und the laws of the land.
Sex selection occurs under three stages, abortion, and sperm sorting before conception as well as via IVF treatment carried out before embryogenesis. Sperm sorting is a new technique and it is not regulated or banned in the United Kingdom since it doesn’t involve the donation of sperms or the creation of embryos outside the woman’s body (MailOnline).
According to US researchers, there is a unique and new technique in which couples are virtually guaranteed the gender of the fetus. The technique offers 90% guarantee of accuracy in sex selection for unborn babies. This sounds a sound milestone especially to couples who opt to have a specific sex of children for reasons pertaining medical problems like genetic disorders that are sex selective. However, this raises an eyebrow, especially for the social welfare concerns. Fertility experts in Britain have been reported to argue that the method has the potential of damaging the unborn children. According to a debate that was thrown to the public by BBC; there is still mixed feelings on the approach of sex selection. The majority of the people are against the idea citing that it would result in sex imbalance in the society. Others despise the research on the ground of the incapacity for genetic variations as well as the possibility of genetic mutations that can be detrimental to the development and survival. Some people see it as a window to social vices like abortion since the parents will prefer to terminate the pregnancy of some sex for the other, for instance, the male child may be allowed to develop while a female fetus will be aborted (BBC NEWS).
In 2005, the Australian Health and Ethics Committee banned the sex selection via IVF as well as PGD (Pre-genetic-diagnosis) techniques unless for medical purpose. The IVF specialists are contemplating for the lifting of the ban arguing that it is harmless as long as it does not affect the taxpayers cost. Therefore, the couples should be granted the right to choose what they want. Parents who have imbalanced families, for instance, two girls and need a boy or vice versa are in agreement with the sex selection idea. According to Diane Tully, an Australian and a victim of same sex family; Federal governments need to look at the families who have three or even more children of same-sex and show some empathy for them; probably by allowing the sex selection policies. The medical director of Monash IVF, Prof. Gab Kovacs is for the idea that there should be more validity in the argument that IVF procedure for sex selection is illegal. He argues that suppose a couple desires a specific gender and is denied to carry out IVF than the child turns to be the undesired sex there will be minimal attention and nurture as compared to the desired gender. Therefore, Kovacs argued that sex selection should be allowed since it is for the best interest of the child. Contrary to this, the Australian Health Ethics Committee does not by this idea, it firmly believes that the admission to life should never be conditioned by belonging to a particular gender. However, it allows for the IVF procedures if and only if the parents suffer extreme genetic disorders that are sex selective and can be transferred to siblings of a specific sex (NewsLifeMedia Pty Ltd).
In 2012, Britain’s ban on sex selection by PGD (pre-genetic-diagnosis) technique was still on. This forced some couples to go abroad to the United States where they are put under medical treatment for pre-conception gender determination. After the gender is determined the embryo is inserted into the woman’s womb; this is a form of child gender selection that was not allowed in Britain. The procedure was by then legalized in most states of USA; surprisingly, one New York clinic claimed that 15% of its clients were British, and moreover most of them were top British politicians who ironically went for services that were outlawed in their country. This was according to Jeffrey Steinberg, a doctor at Manhattan Fertility Institutes clinic. Dr. Steinberg, who studied in Britain, viewed banning PGD is a silly and outdated move. He further supported the idea saying if he had his method, he would give parents the rights to choose not only the gender but also hair and eye colors of their children. He elucidated that in 2009, he had offered the same services but stopped due to poor public perception on the matter. However, he turned controversial by saying that that was not the right thing to do at that time. He painted a scenario that people spend over £30,000 on flights to the United States to have sex selection in a bid to balance their families. He referred sex selection as not choosing life but rather a lifestyle. He argued that family rearing is not a matter of choosing toy sets in which one should have all the sorts of designs available for disposal, the value of a child is not on the sex of the child (Gordon).
The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) is bowing to the pressure of accepting public submissions for allowing the sex selection via IVF procedures. Bioethicists have a different opinion on this issue and perceive it unethical if it is done for non-medical purposes. Tamara Kayali Browne, a bioethicist does not buy the idea; she argues that the reasons behind non-medical sex selection make it unethical. According to Tamara; sex selection in the quest to avoid medical complications that may affect a specific sex is allowed, it bids logic why some couples may need non-medical sex selection. It is, therefore, clear to see that it is not the sex of the child that is of value in this case but the gender. According to WHO (World Health Organization), sex is delineated by the biological as well as physiological properties such as genitalia and the chromosomal composition. On the other hand, Gender refers to things to so with sociology especially the socially formed roles, behaviors, attributes as well as activities and responsibilities assigned to men and women, in particular, societies. For this case, many of the parents who seek sex selection are not for either the male or female sex but rather the fulfillment of the societal expectations that are defined by boyhood or by girlhood. The parents only wish to raise a child who will fit and adhere to the gender-based societal behaviors, customs, and norms. Though not well proven but assumed, the sex selection is bad science. Gender assumption is thus a serious case that have adverse repercussions in the society. The assumptions as well as stereotypes that come up with how each gender is supposed to be treated, excel, act as well as strive for trigger the sexism that permeates our societies. Sex selection is termed as a product of false assumptions and perpetuates the same about gender that keep humanity (both men and women) in place. As a matter of fact; these false assumptions creates a barrier towards the realization of equality as well as freedom from gender bias and gender restrictive roles (Browne).
The issue of sex selection bears different directions leaving a bunch of confusions on whether it is right or not. As a matter of fact, it sounds better and ethically upright if it is only done in cases where there is the threat of occurrence of a genetic disorder that affects a specific sex. In other words, sex-selection done for the medical purpose is ethical. However, there are so many people who feel that it should be allowed for all for whatsoever reason. For this reason, the government, as well as parliaments, should develop motions and probably be set for a referendum for legalization since it is also not right to impose rules on people without their say. It would be right if what is held as a law is by the rule of majority and democracy.
More scientific researches need to be done to confirm that the procedure is safe before it is accepted. On the other hand, the impact on the society also needs to be analyzed since it is expected to have some effects on the societal composition as well as the perception of gender. The religious perception of human fertility is also affected by this case. This makes the matter not a one-day judgment but a process that should take ample time as well as rigorous researches and consultations.
Sex selection in children is a heated debate that brings about a plethora of different views from different people. Some countries limit it up to the medical reasons that are, where the sex selection is done to avoid serious genetic disorders that affect specific sexes. Britain, for instance, allows sex selection in children only for medical purposes. Other countries, for instance, some states in the United States of America do allow sex selection for non-medical purposes. This has seen many couples, especially from the UK, fly to the United States to get the sex selection purposes for now- medical reasons that are a ‘no-no’ in the United Kingdom.
BBC NEWS. Should parents be able to choose the sex of their child? 10th July 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/1423869.stm. 2015 November 30th.
Browne, Tamara Kayali. Parent Planning-We Shouldn’t be allowed to Choose our Children’s Sex. 16th September 2015. http://www.ethics.org.au/On-Ethics/blog/September-2015/Parent-planning-%E2%80%93-we-shouldn%E2%80%99t-be-allowed-to-choos. 30th November 2015.
Gordon, Bryony. No one should be able to choose their baby’s sex. 30th August 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/9506234/No-one-should-be-able-to-choose-their-babys-sex.html. 30th November 2015.
MailOnline. Should parents be able to choose their baby’s gender? n.d. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-144107/Should-parents-able-choose-babys-gender.html. 30th November 2015.
NewsLifeMedia Pty Ltd. The ethics of choosing your child’s gender; Should parents have the right to pick their child’s sex? 14th July 2015. http://mums.bodyandsoul.com.au/pregnancy+parenting/pregnancy+advice/the+ethics+of+choosing+your+childs+gender,6629. 30th November 2015.