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

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Comment on specific Sections, clauses or sentences of the draft revised Draft Ethical guidelines
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Appendix 3a

For the reasons set out below, I am strongly in favour of allowing gender selection for non-medical reasons. 

You adore (or should adore) the children that you have, whether they are your preferred gender or not, whether they have a disability or not and whether they fit your idea of a gender stereotype or not. There is absolutely no reason not to allow gender selection in Australia so that couples who have a strong enough preference for gender can choose it.

Any rational person would realise that that son or daughter may be gay or otherwise not fit the gender stereotype and should be fine with that. There are still basic differences in the son and daughter bonds and sibling relationships and it's perfectly normal to want both, particularly if you have multiple children of one sex and are considering a final child for any reason.

Not many people would use the service; there is a very low risk of it affecting the overall gender balance in Australia where there is no cultural preference for either gender. Most people are happy enough with the lottery. But I know some amazing parents who would dearly love a child of a certain gender, as a completely separate issue to the love and acceptance they have of their existing children.

The designer baby argument - there is such a huge gap between choosing a healthy embryo of a particular gender and choosing blue eyes or musical ability. It's certainly necessary to have a discussion about where the line is drawn (after medical reasons? after family balancing? after leaving any form of conception to nature and banning IVF?), but equating gender selection with baby design generally is lazy and illogical.

So is saying that some people can't conceive at all, therefore it is selfish to have a preference for a healthy child or a child of a particular gender. Again, I know several mothers of same gender children who love their children unconditionally and are unselfish, giving parents. It's still normal to hope that the next child will be the other gender and to feel disappointed when they are not. Any decent parent is still going to give that kid as much love and care as they would have had they been the hoped-for gender - the situation is far more nuanced than the arguments against gender selection suggest.

Lastly, this is not a reflection of the selfishness of modern society. There are indications of couples trying to influence gender far back in history - look at the Chinese fertility calendar for example. Again, it's just normal to have a gender preference particularly for 2nd/3rd/4th or later children, and that is completely separate to the love and acceptance you feel toward the children that you end up having. The only difference is that now we have safe, effective technology available to make it happen.

Of course, there should be boundaries to use of that technology - for example: require pre-IVF counselling to ensure that the couple do understand the child will be an individual who may or may not fit their idea of the preferred gender stereotype and that the couple is prepared to accept the child unconditionally regardless of his or her individual traits; give the couple guidance on how to explain the gender selection choice to their other children (if any) and to the child who is born via gender selection; keep records of use of the technology to assess any potential impact on society at regular intervals.

Page reviewed: 20 April, 2017