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Draft Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research submission

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Dear Sirs,

I am a nurse but also the mother of 4 sons so I have the same view for 2 differing reasons. I advocate FOR gender selection. My reasons are twofold my personal and others I know desire for a mixed gender family, and the withholding of information from prospective parents. People will argue that gender selection is not natural but I find this a redundant argument, it is after all ARTIFICAL reproductive technology, by its definition not natural. Much of medicine is not natural, much of it is fighting against nature to prolong or improve life. Left to nature juvenile diabetics would die.

The debate hides under ethics, is it ethical to choose a gender. That too is not an ethical debate at all but a social one. Socially people don’t have families of 8 or more children as commonly as they did in previously generations. A family of over 8 children of one gender was not impossible but would have been improbable and rare. So in the past it was more likely to have a larger gender balanced family.  This raises the question of is it socially responsibly it today’s world to have a large family just to get a specific gender when ART could provide a smaller balanced family?

I work in general practice and many people have quietly disclosed to me that they had or have a longing for one gender. An older gentleman a man in his 80’s stated that he and his wife had only sons and that he and his wife completed their family by adopting a girl. The desire for a mixed gender family is not new.

The other issue is full discloser of information.  To me this is the more important than the desire for a little girl to dress in pink or a boy to toss a ball too. I feel patients should be entitled to ALL information and that to withhold information about the gender of an embryo when testing has taken place is for genetic disease is wrong. Why it is that embryo gender is not disclosed? Why is it ethical to ever withhold information from a patient? Current guideline leave the people most impacted by information the ones that have the least access to it and no ability to act on it.

It goes without saying that firstly a parent wants a healthy child conceived naturally with no medical intervention required, people usually use ART as a last resort. If a couple has to use ART why should they not have the option of not only making sure their child is healthy and free from any seriously detectable diseases and abnormalities, but as the testing has been performed and the information available to chose a gender. 

 I personally find it highly inappropriate that in the case of ART someone other than the parents, the person who has the greatest emotional and vested interest in their family is the one with the least input. Why should your doctor chose your child’s gender and you have no say? If genetic screening has been performed on YOUR embryos why on earth is that information not disclosed to the parents and the parents’ wishes taken into account?

I think the current situation is beyond ludicrous that despite them being YOUR embryos you are denied all the information about them.  

The current guidelines of the patriarchal denial of all information to patients is archaic. In what other field of medicine do we deny patients information and the ability to act on it?   

Kerri McKenzie


Page reviewed: 20 April, 2017