Leading bioethicists have criticised the practice of non-medical sex-selection in American IVF clinics. Non-medical sex-selection via IVF involves a woman producing embryos which are genetically tested before implantation. The process is known as “family balancing”.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal LINK, bioethicist Arthur Caplan warned that this could easily become a smoke screen for families who want boys. “When you are treating the fertile in order to produce something that they prefer as opposed to a disease, I do think you’re really opening the door to a potential slope toward eugenics,” he said.
The head of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ethics Committee, Sigal Klipstein, said that the practice involved a dangerous transition from medical treatment to a kind of wish-fulfilment: “We don’t want people to use technology that’s really intended to help couples with medical needs for nonmedical reasons”.
Family-balancing services are advertised prominently on many IVF clinics’ websites. About half of the patients seeking the service come from overseas.
Australia is considering legalising the practice of non-medical sex-selection. The process has been banned in the country for ten years, but the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council claims that there has been a shift in public opinion on the issue.
Surreptitious sex-selection is already taking place in Australia as well according to SBS, a government broadcaster. “Australia registered 1,395 missing female births during 2003-2013 among Chinese and Indian communities in Australia,” Dr Christophe Guilmoto, who authored a UN report on gender selection in the country, told SBS Radio.
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