Fertility docs say Oz parents should be allowed to choose baby’s sex

March 13th, 2010 - 5:26 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Mar 13 (ANI): Fertility doctors in Australia are lobbying for permission to allow parents to choose the sex of their children for social or family balancing reasons.

According to the Herald Sun, Australia’s health watchdog was set to review its ban on sex selection technology with many of the nation’s fertility doctors lobbying for the controversial practice to become widely available.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Federal Government will listen to both sides of the debate, but isn’t pushing for the ban on gender selection technology to be lifted.

“But I need to flag that the government has not set down this path because we wish to make any changes,” News.com.au quoted her as telling ABC radio.

“And, at a personal level, I am very uncomfortable about the suggestions that such a change might be made,” she said.

IVF pioneer Gab Kovacs is leading the charge, arguing that at a cost of between 10,000 to 15,000 dollars, only those who were extremely determined would go for sex selection.

“If I am prepared to do it (sex selection), I am prepared to pay for it out of my own pocket so it is not the community paying, I can’t understand why that should be forbidden,” he said.

“It might even be in the interests of the child to have their sex selected.

“If a couple so badly want a boy or a girl they are prepared to go through IVF and sex selection at great cost and effort rather than getting pregnant naturally, then maybe if they had the child naturally and it was the wrong sex it may not be looked after as well,” he stated.

The use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is currently allowed in Australia only in cases where parents suffer serious genetic diseases that can be passed to children of one gender.

But a five-year moratorium on the wider use of sex selection expires this year.

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is about to consider opening up the practice so parents can choose the gender they prefer, or to “balance their family if they have children of the other gender”.

Dozens of Australians travel to Thailand and the US each year and spend thousands of dollars to choose the sex of their children.

Melbourne IVF chairman Dr Lyndon Hale said he dealt with only a handful of patients each year who wanted sex selection and did not know how much their numbers would grow if it became an option.

While he plans to call for the process to be opened up for non-medical reasons, Dr Hale thinks it should be allowed only when there is a significant benefit for the parents and their child.

“I don’t think it should be open slather where people say, ‘I have a boy and I want a girl so I can have the pair’,” he added. (ANI)

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