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thread: Ethics of artificial sex selection

  1. #55
    Registered User

    Dec 2005
    4,840

    I dont think that a gender imbalance would occur N2L, not in most western societies but its definitely something that could be an issue. I think its hard to separate those genuine people who wish to balance our their families with BOTH gender children from those who might have socially or morally unacceptable reasons for gender preference (not inclusive of genetic or mental health issues!). There would have to be stringent guidelines for non-genetic gender selection for it to even be remotely acceptable; and rightly so. I dont think there is a strong sway to one gender preference here in Australia; for every person I meet who, like myself after several boys, would like a girl there is another I meet who would like a boy after several girls. It seems more common to have both genders, esp so if you have several children. I don't think anyone truly believes they would get all one gender; and then when it happens its quite a shock.

    For someone like myself, who may very well end up going down the ART road to have our last baby; would it be harmful for us to request only female embryo's put back in? If we are there in the moment, why not? What if there are only male embryo's - well we would use them. What if there were embryo's left that were male? I know my DH would want to discard them irrespective of gender, Im not sure what I would do irrespective of gender.

    How would I feel if a daughter I chose specifically for gender decided she identified with being a male more? I would be fine with it, just as I would be fine if one of my boys identified as female, or was homosexual. These things are out of our control no matter the circumstances. I think thats something to think about when having children in general. I am certain no daughter of mine would be 100% girly girl with 3 older brothers anyway



    Gender balancing doesn't just affect adults too. Ds1 is nearly 6 and thinks it is unfair that he does not have both brothers and sisters. He is adamant that we must have a girl next because he wants a sister; he already has his precious brothers. Everyone else (in a 6yo eyes) has one of each, why not us? I find it hard to deal with because I agree with him, why cant we have both boys and girls?

  2. #56
    2013 BellyBelly RAK Recipient.

    Nov 2008
    baldivis
    964

    Ethics of artificial sex selection

    We would love a daughter the experience of both genders and differences.
    Of course not having extra money to spend we can't go down the ivf route (mortgage bills etc) I would love a lil tomboy I'm not the most girliest we all into cars heavy metal I'm on my way being covered in tattoos!
    But what is hard is explaining to my ds1 that chances are he'll never have a sister. He regularly askes for a sister I just recently mc and he started up saying when can I see my baby sister in hospital, and will baby sister come out of mummy's tummy too?
    Then last week we explained we as a family will go for a weekend holiday soon he said and baby sister too? I explained he doesn't have a sister ad he replied he wanted mummy to have a baby sister in mummy's tummy!
    And now last night he was whimpering in his sleeping saying he wanted his sister!
    You can't say to a 4yr old no you most likely never have a lil sister, instead all I know what to say is maybe oneday.
    How much that breaks my heart. From this point of view it not just parents who what each gender/sex in their family but siblings too. I grew up with 3 other sisters and when my brother came, we were estatic (my mum also suffered many mc's too including twin boys at 20weeks)
    I do not think its wrong for families wanting to balance and specially the genetic side of things everyone wants a healthy baby in the end. Me or my boys wouldn't be here if technology and people didn't evolve.

  3. #57

    Mar 2004
    Sparta
    12,662

    Gender balancing doesn't just affect adults too. Ds1 is nearly 6 and thinks it is unfair that he does not have both brothers and sisters. He is adamant that we must have a girl next because he wants a sister; he already has his precious brothers. Everyone else (in a 6yo eyes) has one of each, why not us? I find it hard to deal with because I agree with him, why cant we have both boys and girls?
    Do you think he might have picked that up from you? Neither of my boys have ever expressed any desire for a sister. DS1 went though a clucky phase but he just wanted a baby he wasn't fussy about gender.

  4. #58
    Registered User

    Jan 2009
    5,235

    Why is ok to manipulate the natural process to GET pregnant but not to CHOOSE gender
    For me personally, it's the fact that embryos are created until you get the gender you want - what happens to the remaining embryos? I know in IVF that can happen too, to some degree you may end up with fertilised eggs that are unused- but that's a different thread! For me it's quite different to have 'left over' embryos to having left over ones because they are the wrong sex.

  5. #59
    Registered User

    Jan 2005
    Down by the ocean
    6,110

    I know in IVF that can happen too, to some degree you may end up with fertilised eggs that are unused- but that's a different thread!
    "to some degree you may end up with fertilised eggs that are unused"

    Are there different degrees of unused eggs?

    Is it OK to tell someone who is medically infertile that its OK to destroy the embryos they don't want because they are only "fertilised to some degree" (so as not upset them I imagine), but not OK to tell someone they can destroy them based on gender alone? There is a bit of political correctness at play on this forum.

    Do you think he might have picked that up from you? Neither of my boys have ever expressed any desire for a sister. DS1 went though a clucky phase but he just wanted a baby he wasn't fussy about gender.
    My boys asked if they can have a sister after their first female cousin was born. They have all played very well with little girls at kinder so I'm guessing that it came from their experiences there too. I never said that I would have liked a little girl out loud. Ever. The same can't be said for nosy old loud mouth biddies at the supermarket though

    I suppose the case that truly distressed me was the family asking to be able to do IVF for a girl. I think it went to court. They had 2 healthy sons. Their daughter was stillborn. They tried again and conceived healthy boy twins, who they aborted because they wanted a girl.
    That distressed a lot of people regardless of what side of the fence they are sitting on I imagine What about the selective reduction story on 60 mins a few weeks ago? Is wanting a specific gender actually worse than just wanting one and killing any extras?


    I am on the side of allowing it to be available. I really don't see it as being achievable for the great majority of the population of Australia anyhow due to cost. Also the desire of more balanced families seems to be the way over here, so I don't believe it will cause a great gender imbalance either. In the countries that it could cause a gender imbalance...well they murder their baby girls at birth anyway so it won't change anything. I actually would prefer for embryos to be discarded at fertilisation than to think about a screaming newborn baby being thrown in a bucket of water.
    Last edited by ~Raven~; June 7th, 2012 at 06:55 PM.

  6. #60
    Registered User

    Jan 2009
    5,235

    "to some degree you may end up with fertilised eggs that are unused"

    Are there different degrees of unused eggs?
    What I meant was 'to some degree' as in, in some cases or at times, there will be unused eggs. Not all IVF cases will have lots of fertilised eggs - they may only have a few that are used during transfer, others may have several left over....like I said, that's a different thread.

    I didn't mean that they are fertilised to some degree at all - sorry if that was unclear.

    I actually would prefer for embryos to be discarded at fertilisation than to think about a screaming newborn baby being thrown in a bucket of water.
    And I am sorry, but that is a extremely distasteful example to use.

  7. #61
    Registered User

    Oct 2007
    Middle Victoria
    8,924

    For me personally, it's the fact that embryos are created until you get the gender you want - what happens to the remaining embryos? I know in IVF that can happen too, to some degree you may end up with fertilised eggs that are unused- but that's a different thread! For me it's quite different to have 'left over' embryos to having left over ones because they are the wrong sex.
    Would you be comfortable with sperm sorting (sorting x sperm from Y sperm) and then only using the selected sex sperm to fertilise the egg?

  8. #62
    Registered User

    Dec 2005
    4,840

    No I dont think he has picked it up from me. Ive never let on to them that I would love a daughter, but as Raven said I cant say the same for nosy rude people who constantly hound us as to wanting a daughter or trying for a daughter. He has had quite a few friends of late have baby sisters, and we are only one of two families he has contact with that has only one gender; everyone we know and associate with have both boys and girls. He feels having another brother would be greedy, he already has two, in his mind let someone else who doesnt have one have it and we can have a sister. Simplistic thinking from the mind of a child. He's wanted a sister since his youngest brother was born.

    ETA: HotI, I was under the impression that sperm sorting was one way to determine gender (or try to atleast)..................is it not an option at present? Id rather opt for sperm sorting than PGD if I were taking the ART route to gender select.

  9. #63
    Registered User

    Jan 2005
    Down by the ocean
    6,110

    OK I get what you mean, but if there is still unwanted embryos left over then the two situations are similar. We're discussing destroying unwanted embryos here so why does it matter the reasons they were created. If it's unethical to discard 5 embryos because they aren't the desired gender, then why is it OK to discard 5 embryos because someone might not want more than one child?

  10. #64
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jun 2008
    In snuggle land
    4,499

    Thanks to everyone who has added their opinion. I am genuinely interested in both sides of the issue, even though I have my own opinion. Reading other perspectives has helped me see that this isn't black and white and like many issues, it depends.

    I still don't know if it's ethical, but then some people don't think it's right that we try for another baby with our history.

    Thanks also for not turning this into a slinging match.

  11. #65

    Jun 2010
    District Twelve
    8,425

    I just wanted to pipe up and say that more often than not there are not unwanted embryos left after an IVF cycle or cycles. Sure, it happens, but not all the time.

  12. #66
    Registered User

    Jan 2009
    5,235

    Would you be comfortable with sperm sorting (sorting x sperm from Y sperm) and then only using the selected sex sperm to fertilise the egg?
    Yes, certainly more comfortable than discarding fertilised embryos. But I can't see myself ever going down the gender selection path at all - but sperm sorting would be my choice if I did.

  13. #67

    Mar 2008
    Where dreams are now reality
    2,318

    I just wanted to pipe up and say that more often than not there are not unwanted embryos left after an IVF cycle or cycles. Sure, it happens, but not all the time.
    I agree with n2l on this but I also dont think it is 'ethical' to dispose of unwanted blasto's either regardless of reasons created.

  14. #68

    Nov 2007
    Earth
    4,434


    IVF has the ability to help people control their own fertility in a revolutionary way, and it creates more embryos than are ever used, and helps people conceive babies they would never have conceived otherwise.

    We as a society cannot control other people's fertility.
    I guess it's slightly off topic, but personally I feel it's all part of the same issue. Society does currently control other peoples fertility. By refusing tests or treatments to a woman over a certain BMI, you are denying her fertility. What I'm saying is, our fertility is controlled anyway, but everyone has their sticking points. There's always going to be someone disadvantaged by a rule. I don't think you can say a woman can abort a baby at any gestation for any reason, and then say she can't destroy an embryo because it's the wrong gender.

    Basically, you either make sure people are fully informed of the possible consequences of their decision and allow them their choice, or you ban it all. I don't think there's a middle ground, not one that makes ethical sense, anyway.

    *'You' is not Arcadia, it's a generalised 'you

  15. #69
    Registered User

    Oct 2007
    Caroline Springs
    2,341

    I personally don't have any problem with gender selection for any reason. I think the easiest way to explain my reasons for feeling this way is to state why I disagree with and comment on many of the arguments that are often used against it. I'm by no means saying that I'm right and others are wrong, because I think each individuals view on a topic like this is a product of their beliefs and experiences.


    I'll take other people's comments only in order to comment on them as they are what many people think, not to be personal with that poster.

    "To create life in the form of an embryo and reject it based solely on sex seems abhorrent to me."
    I can certainly understand why people would feel this way. Of course it depends on when you believe a person is created. Some think it's at conception, others when the embryo becomes a fetus, others when the baby is born. Personally I believe a person is all they can be after conception takes place as they now have the total genetic makeup that could make them into a human being. Having said that you might think that I am against creating embryos that may be destroyed. But that would mean I would have to be against all forms of ART/IVF procedures that may result in extra embryos that never get used and ultimately are destroyed, and I'm not. I don't see much difference in destroying embryos for gender purposes versus destrying them because more fertilised than were needed. I guess I tend to ask the question of those against embryos being created that may not be used is, if you went through IVF to conceive and had extra embryos would you use every single one even if you felt your family was complete? Yes there is certainly a difference between couples undergoing IVF for fertility reasons and those for gender selection, but the end outcome of destroyed embryos can be the same in both.

    "culture like China or India, where one sex is valued more than the other"
    I've read many times that people are against gender selection because if it was allowed in countries with a gender preference the population would become saturated with one gender. This is possibly correct to some degree, but no culture would ever get to the point where they only have one gender left and are unable to procreate. It's almost a situation of supply and demand. If one gender became extremely short in supply, the demand for it would go up. Surely the gender in short supply would become "more desirable" than previously and the imbalance would level out at some point. Also, in a country like China where there is a severe over population problem I don't see how a lower population growth rate due to gender imbalance would necessarily be a bad thing.

    "If the choice was supposed to be ours, it wouldn't be a biological process."
    I guess this is largely a religious sort of dilemma. If God wanted the choice to be ours then he would have made it possible? Perhaps he did by giving us the mental capacity to be able to create the process to do what we can...

    "I think the children who were genetically selected have an enomous amount of pressure on them to fulfill their parents dreams of them"
    I believe we all have hopes and dreams for all of our children regardless of how they are brought into the world. Would a parent who was able to fall pregnant naturally once, then needed to use IVF for a subsequent child feel any differently toward each of their children? Would the IVF baby feel more pressure to succeed due to the finances that were spent on conceiving it? I personally don't think so based on my equal love, affection and dreams for my three kids. If you mean that a parent would be disappointed if a child they gender selected didn't fit the stereotype for that gender (like pink, fluffy, girly or blue, rugged, and rough), I also don't think this would be an issue. Like someone else said, each child is individual and some girls can be tomboys, whilst some boys can have very feminine qualities. I think the majority of people are aware it's the "luck of the draw" in the personality department.

    "I couldn't help thinking that what if after all that, the pregnancy never progressed to full term..getting pregnant and staying pregnant is so emotional anyway, but to go through all that extra emotional and financial strain, just for a particular sex?"
    I hate the term 'Gender dissapointment' because I feel it applies that someone doesn't love an existing child of a particular gender because it's not what they wanted. I don't believe this is true in most cases. The parent loves the child, but can't help but mourn the dream of a child they may never have. I mention this because the above sort of statement implies that the emotional stress of IVF and pregnancy and the finances involved would be greater than those that might possibly be experienced by having a child of the less desired gender and suffering gender dissapointment (which may include PND) and possibly require proffesional counselling.

    "The cost..... it's not really fair on your existing children is it?"
    What if finances are not an issue? Is it ok then?

    "I think god, the universe, our higher power only deals us cards that we can deal with."
    This is similar to one of the comments above. It makes me ask the question of whether people with this belief think that infertile couples shouldn't be able to use IVF either?

    "why would anyone put themselves through that if they didn't have to"
    "I just, as many others on here want, a healthy full term alive baby so I guess I don't understand why the gender would drive people to do this"
    The fact that people are willing to go through the process to achieve their dream should show how passionate they are. The desire that many couples feel to simply have a live baby might be very similar to the desire someone feels for a baby of particular gender. Our emotions are so individual that there is no was to quantify desire and say that one person's desire is greater than another's.

    "many of us might not be here if our parents got to choose our sex"
    If you father ejaculated even a fraction of a second later a different sperm (or none!) might have made it to the egg instead and hence you might not be here... No further comment

    "I just don't get how someone could love/want one sex more than another"
    What about if a woman had been subjected to rape and molestation at the hands of a male and was desperately afraid of having a girl for fear it would also hapen to her? Or on the other hand, desperately afraid of having a boy that might DO the same? Surely in some instances it's completely understandable to see why some people may prefer one gender over another (not just in cases like this, but other situations as well). Of course I believe that those psychological issues may be overcome, but I also believe that it could be an easier path for some if they were able to gender select. It's similar to the case that Traveller mentioned.

    "I realise that gender disappointment is real, but it's something I don't understand.."
    I think that is a really crucial point when it comes to an issue like this. It's very hard to see the other side when you haven't walked another's path.

    "it made me very judgemental of people who have a family all the same gender who don't realise the gift they have"
    I don't think there are many parent's out there that don't realise the gift they have. It's more about grieving the gift you don't have. You can love your children to the moon and back and still feel that something is missing.

    "but the wrong gender is NOT a medical issue"
    Techinically it sort of can be. A study has shown that males who have more than one of a particular gender is more likely to conceive the same gender again. The results showed that a male with 4 of one gender already had at least an 80% chance of conceiving the same gender again. The 50:50 ratio isn't medically true and many factors can make it more likely for a father to produce more (or healthier) X or Y sperm. So it raises the question of whether it's ok to use science to correct this medical issue that may or may not be caused by nature in the male.

    "The IVF journey to conceive a baby is hard enough, let alone trying to get one of a particular sex"
    The journey simply to conceive is difficult too, as I know you know. But it took me 9 months (and a heart breaking miscarriage) to naturally conceive my baby boy, and only 3 months (2 cycles) of IVF to get my first daughter. For me personally the 9 months and the loss of my first precious baby was harder than my IVF journey. At least after having PGD I knew my embryo was chromosomally healthy and had a better chance of survival and not resulting in miscarriage than a baby not PGD tested (which as a 3 day old embryo has about at 50% chance of chromosome abnormalities which make it "incompatible with life" according to my IVF geneticist).

    "she has categorically decided with her doctors to terminate if its male"
    I believe that access to gender selection would reduce infanticide and abortion rates. A plus in my books.

    " Because somewhere along the line, someone is deciding which embryo to implant: the specialists can look at development, health and chromosomes and ultimately someone is making that call...why not the parents?"
    I agree. If there are two suitable embryos for transfer and they happen to be of differing genders, what does it matter if the parents decide which they would prefer?

    "Would you be comfortable with sperm sorting (sorting x sperm from Y sperm) and then only using the selected sex sperm to fertilise the egg?"
    A very good question! Many clinics in America use sperm sorting techniques to gender select, therefore there are no extra embryos to potentially be discarded. The success rate is no where near as accurate as PGD though where the sex chromosomes are looked at and the only error can be human error. I'm sure if you told a clinic that you only wanted one egg per cycle fertilised with a sperm that had been sorted, they would probably do it. But your chances of fertilisation, correct growth, implantation and successful pregnancy would be greatly affected. But, would that be ethically ok because there are no extra embryos?

    "What next? Want only blue eyes, only tall children?"
    I don't think most people realise what a massive leap it is from gender selection to so-called "designer babies". With gender selection you are talking about having a particular chomosome looked at to determine the sex. At the same time they usually look at a number of other chromosomes to make sure the embryo is chromosomally normal. We only have 23 pairs of chromosomes (so 46 chromosomes). Each of the chromosomes are made up of hundreds to thousands of genes to make up a total of over 25,000 genes in our genome. Specific traits are not defined by a single gene on a single chromosome. Even something like eye colour is defined by a number of genes. In order to make a baby with a particular eye colour you wouldn't simply be talking about looking at a single gene and selecting an embryo with that gene, you are talking about science advancing to the point where we are able to splice every single gene involved in a particular trait, create the genes we want, and replace them in the genome. Not to mention that many genes affect more than one trait as well. We are so far away from that technology that gender selection and designer babies are so different that they are not even distant cousins.


    I think I should stop my essay now. Once again I want to mention that none of my comments are directed personally at anyone, and I respect each person's thoughts and beliefs. Like I mentioned, it's an extremely personal topic for everyone and is based on individual beliefs and experiences that all have merit. There is certainly no right or wrong with a topic like this. But it certainly makes for an awesome discussion!!!

  16. #70
    Registered User

    Jun 2005
    USA
    3,991

    I have NO issue whatsoever with gender selection for family balancing. That is, once a family has had one child through natural gender selection then I think they can go for their lives and have IVF to select the gender of their child if that's what rocks their boat. I seriously just don't see the problem with people doing that if they want

    For me personally, I have two sons and I have suffered gender yearning for a girl. It doesn't seem to be as strong now but I am still intrigued by using IVF for gender selection and given that it's legal where I am currently living I am going to actively research it just to know what it costs and what is involved so that I fully understand my choices.

    I am well aware that IVF is difficult physically and emotionally and I am very blessed not to need it. I do not take the idea lightly and I think it would be this point that would be the biggest factor in stopping me from doing it as I really don't want to go through IVF.

    Then there's the cost. Yes, the idea of limiting my family's lifestyle for gender selection does also concern me. If it cost $5K then maybe? My homebirth cost $5K and I didn't HAVE to it but I saw it as a time in our family where my baby & I were worth the money so we spent it. I'm pondering at what cost my longing for a daughter, and bringing her into existence, is worth it. But whether or not we can even have another baby is an important consideration for our family. My eldest son needs a great deal of my time and having a baby would deprive him of that time so he would lose out and as such we wont be having baby any time soon, if at all. Creating babies is always a consideration for the whole family, so I think just saying the cost is not fair on the rest of the family is a moot point.

    As for discarding embryos- if there were any more embryos than the one it took for me to get pregnant then I wouldn't want to use them, regardless of gender. I have no qualms with embryo donation so I would donate them. If I only had boy embryos then I would still happily donate them and either try another IVF cycle or decide it's time to TTC naturally and get whatever we got. Which still excites me, because I love my little boys SO very much and another one would never, ever be a hardship.

    As to why I feel gender yearnings for a girl. No, it is not so I can dress her in pink or go girly shopping. I don't do those things myself and I don't want a girl so she can fit the stereotype of being a girl. Men and women ARE different. When I picture having a girl I envisage having a woman. Having a child who I have that life long parent/child relationship with who is a woman and relates to me from that perspective. If she has children, then discussing my labours & breastfeeding journies with her, and having her relate because I'm her mother and it holds a personal meaning to her. I wouldn't care at all if she was a tomboy. If she turned out to be transgender then yes, I probably would have a quiet chuckle to myself about why on earth we went through IVF to have her (not that we had her at all, just that we used IVF to do it) and I wouldn't bother if I knew that in advance, but naturally I'd still love her, now him, because he would be my child and that would be the main thing.

  17. #71
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jun 2008
    In snuggle land
    4,499

    Mylitta- thank you for your essay. It's certainly helped me see the other side better. I dont know that I'm
    convinced, but I dont feel as judgemental as I originally did.

  18. #72
    Registered User

    Jan 2008
    Brisbane
    5,039

    As always meow you say things so well, with honesty and respect. Evan tho I still do really get it, I can see exactly were you are coming from.

    I think it's great also that you could embryo donate. Would you consider donating your eggs?

    As long as the ivf didn't mean you couldn't afford another Hb

    Thanks for putting your pov out there meow

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