AU: Couple fighting govt over right to choose sex of their next child

Shelley Hadfield reports on a case that raises significant ethics and privacy questions:

A couple so desperate for a baby girl that they terminated twin boys are fighting to choose the sex of their next child.

The couple, who have three sons and still grieve for a daughter they lost soon after birth, are going to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to win the right to select sex by IVF treatment.

They say they want the opportunity to have the baby daughter they were tragically denied.

An independent panel, known as the Patient Review Panel, recently rejected the couple’s bid to choose the sex of their next child using IVF.

They have gone to VCAT in a bid to have that decision overturned.

Read more about the case on

I do not know how many countries have banned using technology or abortions to selectively pick the gender of a child. I do remember the controversy that arose when China imposed its one-child-per-family rule and people worried that male offspring would be selectively favored if it wasn’t prohibited.

But should governments have the right to make decisions about the gender of a child, “in the interests of society,” or is this such an intensely private and personal issue that governments should stay out of any decision-making couples may make?

And if you believe that governments should stay out of any such decision-making, did you also think that “Octamom” (Nadya Suleman) should have been allowed to conceive 8 children when she had no reasonable means to support them?

Oh what a tangled ethics web we weave when we get into possibilities that technology has enabled.

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2 comments to “AU: Couple fighting govt over right to choose sex of their next child”

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  1. Anonymous - January 8, 2011

    Not only was there the worry that China’s 1-child policy would produce gender imbalance, it has actually happened. The implications have only recently begun to make themselves apparent, but they could truly be sweeping and create significant social problems for Chinese society.

    • Anonymous - January 8, 2011

      Wow! Thanks for posting that link, Dierdre. I wonder whether these data will come up in the Australian case.

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