Although gender selection can be a divisive issue is some societies, it is something that is becoming increasingly common. It is a practice that has been going on for decades and has numerous benefits, especially for families who maybe have several children of the same sex. Often it is something that parents have given careful consideration to, and when they come to us, they are clear with their intentions and their desired outcome.
We ensure that both parents are comfortable with the decision and know precisely what is involved. Ethics are incredibly important and something that we always keep at the very forefront of our minds. Once we are entirely satisfied that patients are comfortable, only then will we agree to begin treatment.
What is gender selection?
As the name would suggest, gender selection is the process of choosing the sex of your baby. At present, two methods can be used to do this, sperm sorting and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) in conjunction with IVF. The latter option gives parents a choice which embryos are implanted in the womb, which includes being able to choose the sex as well as being able to check for genetic defects.
What is PGD?
PGD is a modern technique that we use for checking for genetic disorders as well as identifying the sex of an embryo by removing a small sample of cells from a blastocyst embryo in our laboratory. It is a process that is used in parallel with IVF treatment. For many couples, we test for genetic disorders, of which over 100 are known. It is a standard procedure for prospective parents that may have a history of genetic disorders in their family. As a result, it forms a key role in gender selection.
The benefits of gender selection (Globally)
1. Family Planning
Gender selection gives parents more flexibility when it comes to family planning. By allowing them the option of being able to choose the sex of the baby, it can influence the number of children that the family decides to raise. For example, some families may continue to have babies until they get the sex that they want, which, in some areas of the world, can lead to lower levels of care. In countries such as China, where there were limits on the number of children a family could have, it was a critical part of giving parents more choice.
2. Levels of Care
As touched upon above, some families continue to have children until they have one that is the desired sex. It can raise concerns about the family’s ability to raise, educate and feed all children properly.
3. Reduces the Risks of Genetic Disorders
Some hereditary or genetic medical conditionals are gender-specific. If there is a higher risk that the mother or father could pass on such a condition to a male or female, it would be beneficial if the parents could choose the sex of the baby before it is conceived. It will effectively eliminate risk and prevent the condition from occurring.
4. More Time to Prepare
There are some practical advantages regarding being able to choose the gender of the baby before conception. Families will be able to plan and save for appropriate clothing, prepare a nursery as well as perhaps being able to hand down old clothes and toys, saving money and wastage. It is something that is rarely the main reason for parents’ choice for choosing the sex of their baby, but it may be an influence if other factors come into the equation.
5. Parents Can be More Loving
Although this is something that many parents would deny, it is a factor that has been recognised. Some, but certainly not all, parents will love and care for a child more if it is a particular sex. If this is the case, and parents need to be honest with themselves, it would be best for all concerned if they chose the sex of the baby before it was born. In some families, it is something that can lead to an overall happier family environment.
6. Help with bereavement
Some families may have lost a child and being able to choose the sex of their next child may help them to overcome their loss. It should be stressed that the newly born child should not be reviewed as a replacement or a substitute and is a new life in its own right. It is something that can help to reduce then grief as well as assisting the family to move on. In some families and cultures, there may be practical reasons for this, such as succession and continuing the family line.
The Counter Argument
Of course, we feel that as a professional clinic, we should identify some of the common arguments that people have against gender selection. There will always be questions raised regarding the morals and ethics of choosing the sex of a child. Often there are practical reasons why people have strong views against gender selection such as that it can cause an imbalance in the natural split between males and females. Cost is another argument that is again frequently brought up when the topic is discussed.
At First Fertility, we are very much in favour of giving parents a choice when it comes to themselves and their families. We regarded our clinic as one that follows the letter of the law and is entirely moral and ethical, always allowing patients the freedom to make their own choices. We are always sympathetic and available to answer questions while maintaining the strictest levels of confidence.
Being able to have a child is a privilege. The option of being able to choose the sex of your child is an extension of that privilege and should never be abused. Being able to choose the gender of your child is often in the best interests of both parents and the unborn child. It is likely to lead to the child having a more fulfilled and enjoyable childhood.