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Is it ethical to allow couples to decide the sex of their child?

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Video above is on the bias against women at work, part of same bias against girls being born in the first place

Sex Selection - sex selectionShould Sex Selection be allowed for parents wanting a baby boy or girl?

Sex Selection is widely practised around the world.

  • Sex Selection is something many parents want:  to decide the sex of their children.
  • Sex Selection is easy to do but raises huge moral / ethical issues.
  • Sex Selection can take place by encouraging in vitro fertilisation (IVF) only by sperm carrying the x or y chromosome or by separating sperm and placing sperm carrying the "right" gene in the womb.
  • Sex Selection can take place immediately after IVF when embryos are tested before implantation.
  • Sex Selection can take place when the developing foetus is tested, either genetically or by looking at ultarasound images, with abortion of a foetus if the "wrong sex".
  • Sex Selection can take place after birth when one or both parents kills their own baby.

While most people would be horrified at the thought of murdering a newborn baby just because it is the wrong gender, this has been happening in India and China, possibly elsewhere. Reports suggest that the ratio of men to women in China has been profoundly altered as a result of the state single child policy.  Sex Selection has become a national issue.

The Academy of Social Sciences in Bejing research times have found that in some parts of China there are 120 boys to only 100 girls because of Sex Selection - natural births produce a ratio of 105 to 100. Another study of women migrating to Bejing found they were arriving with 159 boys to only 100 girls. Sex Selection in China has already produced a very profound national imbalance with many tens of millions of young men now growing up without women to marry.

In India there is a similar problem with Sex Selection, and this has been the case for many years. A study in 1985 of women having amniocentesis (sampling of cells in the fluid surrounding a developing foetus in the womb) in Mumbai (Bombay) found that 90% were carried out to determine the sex of the child, and that 96% testing positive for a girl resulted in abortion. Although now illegal to abort in India on the basis of Sex Selection alone, ultrasound is commonly used to make the diagnosis before the 20th week of pregnancy and abortion is a common result.

Sex Selection is a problem (by one method or another) because many parents have decided that if they are only going to have one child, it should be a boy. In India, baby girls are also valued far less than baby girls in some communities.

In the UK recently, two parents who had seen a daughter die requested Sex Selection to guarantee that their next child be a girl, but were refused - against British law.  They said that they had many sons and desperately needed a daughter.  Indeed they claimed that they had a human right to a baby girl and that Sex Selection should be allowed - as an exception for them. Since then, regulations have been relaxed although Sex Selection for personal preferences is still against the law - unlike the US.

The trouble is that society as a whole is not capable of handling Sex Selection without terrible results.  Cultures vary - even amongst different communities inside the same nation or city.  A report in October 2000 found that 75% of newly wed couples in Japan want their first child to be a girl - and if many families have only one child, what then?  Even if they all have two children, statistically there will be far too many women in Japanese society, assuming Sex Selection becomes common practice.

And why stop at Sex Selection?  Why not start selecting future babies on the basis of predicted intelligence, athletic ability, musical talent, height or personality tendencies?   The human genome project, coupled with Genetic engineering research is giving us huge powers to predict the future of human beings.  We don't yet know which genes are good at predicting intelligence, but there is no doubt that we will.  What then?

You can be sure that there will be huge pressures, if Sex Selection becomes normalised, to continue with selection for a host of other characteristics.

Do you really want to live in that kind of world?  A world where Sex Selection routinely condemns to destruction healthy foetuses just because they don't fit the personal preferences of selfish parents? Or where children are only conceived and loved if they are of the "right" sex?

Article written 1998


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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to hear your views. Post below.

Frank
March 18, 2013 - 06:53

There is a chance that God(s) exist
There is a chance of a Divine Plan
There is a chance of an after life
There is a chance that we exist and persist on some other plain of existence beyond the one we directly experience

However, at least in the physical plain that we all experience, live in, and have some perceivable control "we are all born to die". Further, many die horribly, needlessly and worst of all, either at our own hands, or despite them, through apathy or negligence.

I suggest in this physical plain, we do what we can to reduce this suffering, solving this as best as we can. 1st through social awareness and action, then through science and technology.

We already have the technology to cure hunger, many diseases, illnesses, but still millions? die of things we already can cure. Why can't we cure apathy, war, attain sustainable lifestyles?

Sorry, this was about cloning... under certain conditions I don't have a problem with a clone being created to save a child by "donating" a kidney. But perhaps the clone should be kept by the family as a younger sibling, as a precondition, to remind the family that an entire new person must be created to save their child and that person - is not just a source of an organ. Assuming of course that the clone can go on to have no ill health effects from being a clone, and that the humanity of the clone is not called into question or considered less than a non-cloned individual.

As a parent - if I had to take a kidney from one of my children to save another, I would . I think most children in a healthy family would volunteer, and be horribly upset if not given the chance to do so.

BUSOLO ELIUD
January 31, 2012 - 07:08
human genetic development

If at all human cloning by any far is for the coming generation,then we ought to embrace it.But if it means total destruction of human of humanity[meaning against God's will, then have it discarded for safety.But l personally think it good if at all the benefit are real.Otherwise get cloned at your own risk.

Join the Debate! What are your own views?


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