Australia Doc Argues for Sex-Selection Designer Babies Via IVF

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 17, 2011   |   1:19PM   |   Washington, DC

An obstetrician in Sydney, Australia is drawing outrage from across the globe as he told a newspaper this weekend that parents should be able to use sex-selection abortions to balance their families evenly with boys and girls.

Professor Michael Chapman, the head of women’s and children’s health at the University of New South Wales, says sex-selection abortions are alright, but he said Australians won’t use them in the same way as Asians in nations like China or India, where such abortions are done specifically to kill girls in cultures that place a higher value on boys. He said residents of Australia would be more interested in ”gender balance,” to ensure their families have both girls and boys.

”In this country it’s more about gender balance than selecting the sex of one child,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Chapman says parents should be able to choose the sex of their babies after the first child and complained about the national ban Australia instituted on using in-vitro fertilization to do so — making so-called designer babies. He claimed the ban is unnecessary because he says less than 5 percent of parents requested to create a baby in IVF with a specific sex in mind and, when so doing, he says parents were split evenly on whether they preferred a boy or a girl.

He complained to the newspaper that the ban has merely driven such parents to other nations, such as the United States or Thailand, to make designer babies. While lifting the ban would make it hard to police making designer babies, Chapman says it should still be lifted.

”I certainly see patients who have had three boys who would only have a child in the future if they knew it would be a girl – and vice versa,” he said. ”In the profession’s view there should be sex selection for those parents that want to balance the family.”

Dr. Rupert Sherwood, the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, does not support the idea, and called Champman’s suggestion “taking science and using it in a social sense.” The Australian Families Association also told the Herald it opposed the idea, saying, ”You start by allowing parents to select the sex of their children, the question is: what’s next? Screening for eye color, for intelligence? You’d have to be incredibly naive to think that would be the end of the matter.”

Despite the opposition, the newspaper says the National Health and Medical Research Council is expected to review the ban soon and it also quotes IVF specialist Alison Gee as saying there is sufficient demand for sex-selection to lift the ban.