Parents Should Be Allowed to Choose The Gender of Their Child
Should parents be allowed to select the gender of their offspring?
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People should have freedom of choice. Why shouldn’t would-be parents be able to do this, given that...
People should have freedom of choice. Why shouldn’t would-be parents be able to do this, given that no harm is done to others by their decision? Article 16 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:\
'Men and women of full age… have the right to marry and to found a family.'\
and this right should be understood to cover the right to make decisions over how that family should be formed.\
Freedom of choice is a good principle, but harm is done to others by the practice of sex selection and so it should not be allowed. Apart from the danger that serious gender imbalances will result (covered in point 3 below), making some sort of sexual selection legal and acceptable will reinforce and legitimise gender stereotypes. In practice this will inevitably mean more oppression of women, already seen as less valuable than men in many cultures. Nor is sex selection supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; its writers did not imagine recent developments but did include rights for equal treatment and status for women, which allowing gender selection would undermine.
It is a fact of life that sometimes parents are disappointed with the gender of their children. Thi...
It is a fact of life that sometimes parents are disappointed with the gender of their children. This is true, for example, when they already have six sons but want a daughter. Guaranteeing (or improving the chances of) a child being of the gender they want means that the child is more likely to fit into the family’s dreams. He or she is, bluntly, more likely to be loved.\
Talk of designer babies is scaremongering nonsense. All babies are, to some extent, designed. Individuals do not procreate randomly: they choose their partners, and often choose the time of conception according to their own age and prosperity. Parents give so much to children. They invest years of their lives and a large amount of their earnings in their upbringing. Isn’t it fair that in return, they get to decide something like this if they want to? This is an extension of reproductive rights.\
Children are not toys. They are not meant to be designed to specifications most convenient to the ‘owner’. This is an extension of the consumer society. If we allow parents to choose gender, soon some will want to choose eye colour, or hair colour. That is only the beginning. We are, in allowing this, encouraging false ideas of ‘perfection’ – damning those that don’t look a certain way. Furthermore, since of course there’s no justification for allowing such indulgence at public expense, the divide will grow ever-larger between rich and poor, as the rich tailor not only their clothes and belongings to reflect their wealth, but also the bodies of their children. If a 'gay gene' is discovered, would parents be permitted to weed out embryos with it, using the technology this proposal would condone? We really should be encouraging the idea that when it comes to children, you get what you are given – otherwise, people will demand more and more ability to change their kids, and be more and more likely to reject their own child when they don’t get exactly what they want…
Some cultures place great importance on having at least one child of a particular gender. We can he...
Some cultures place great importance on having at least one child of a particular gender. We can help realise this aim. We can prevent the trauma and stress of not having a child of a particular gender, which can have negative cultural connotations.\
If a state’s population became seriously imbalanced, one might have to rethink: but given that most countries, including all in the West, do not, and given that many families in most countries will choose to have roughly as many of the other sex, this should not stop this proposal being put into effect in many countries. Even in China, the problem is largely due to the 'one-child' policy which has been relaxed in many areas since the mid-1990s. Over time, a scarcity of one gender will in any case produce new pressures to rebalance the population, e.g the paying of dowries may change, women will achieve higher status.
This argument veils the likely result of the policy: reinforcement of already unhealthy cultural practices. Selective abortion has meant that gender imbalance in China and India is already very, very high – 1.3 boys to each girl in some regions – demonstrating the likely result of such policies in some countries. Even in western countries some minority groups' gender preferences may result in serious imbalances in some communities. These imbalances are \
socially harmful because in time many young men will be unable to find a partner; in China this is already linked to a rise in sexual violence, kidnapping and forced marriage, and prostitution.
It is hardly shattering the mystery of childbirth, given how common ultrasound scans are. Knowing w...
It is hardly shattering the mystery of childbirth, given how common ultrasound scans are. Knowing what gender a child will be is tremendously helpful for parents in planning for the future (picking clothes, colour schemes, toys, names etc). Why not extend that ability to plan?
Having a child is a process of wonder and awe. These proposals make having children to something more like pre-ordering a car. To many people the moment of conception is the start of life, touched by God and not to be interfered with or abused out of selfish human motives.
The trauma and grief of having lost a child might be more easily relieved by allowing the couple to ...
The trauma and grief of having lost a child might be more easily relieved by allowing the couple to have another child of the same gender.
Children are not replacements. They are individuals, unique in themselves. How will a child feel if they know that their primary purpose for being on this earth is to serve as a fill-in for a dead sibling?
Some parents are carriers of known sex-specific diseases. It is obviously in the child’s interests ...
Some parents are carriers of known sex-specific diseases. It is obviously in the child’s interests that they don’t have such a condition. Determining its gender can ensure that. Many families have predispositions towards certain common conditions that are more likely in one gender in another, and these can be avoided too. Nearly all neurodevelopmental diseases are either more common in one gender or more severe among one gender. Arthritis, heart disease and even lung cancer also seem to be influenced by a person's gender. Males disproportionately suffer from X chromosome problems because their body has no copy to ‘fall back on.’ These range in nature from baldness and color blindness to muscular dystrophy and hemophilia. Women are disproportionately affected by diseases of the immune system.\
Genetic modification is not the only technology available. The MicroSort technique uses a ‘sperm-sifting’ machine to detect the minute difference between y and double x chromosome-carrying sperm: no genetic harm results from its use. Over 200 babies have been born using the technology without problems.\
Medical benefits are outweighed by medical costs. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis involves the development of embryos outside the womb, which are then tested for gender. One or two of the desired gender are then implanted in the womb. Those that are not of the desired gender, or are surplus to requirements are destroyed (typically, over a dozen embryos are used to select a single one to be implanted). A human life has been created with the express purpose of being destroyed. This is another form of abortion – only the conception is deliberate. Ultimately, it will be these technologies and not MicroSort that is used, since whilst the latter has a 92% accuracy rate if a girl is desired (itself a lower result than genetic diagnosis), its accuracy falls to 72% for boys, and the vast majority of selections will inevitably be for males. Thus, given that they are so keen to have a child of a particular gender and so unwilling to risk having one of the other gender, parents will not risk using MicroSort. Even if they do choose it, whilst there have not been overt problems thus far, scientific experts like Lord Winston express the fear that the process damages sperm, making genetic mutation much more likely. Both techniques are therefore to be condemned.
In many countries and cultures gender selection happens already, usually by selective abortion or ab...
In many countries and cultures gender selection happens already, usually by selective abortion or abandonment of unwanted babies. Everyone can agree that this is a terrible waste of life and potentially very dangerous for the mother concerned, and of course many people object strongly to abortion on moral grounds. The use of new technologies to allow gender selection at the start of pregnancy will reduce and hopefully eventually end the use of selective abortion.
In the view of many, the new technologies are not morally different from abortion - in all cases a potential life is taken. In any case, the cost of these new methods is so high, and likely to remain so, that the proposition argument is irrelevant - the use of ultrasound scanning leading to selective abortion is so much cheaper that this great evil will not be reduced. Instead, these new technologies are likely to make selective abortion more common, as if they are legalised they will appear to legitimise throwing away a human life simply because the parents would prefer, e.g a boy rather than a girl.
What do you think?