Pre-selecting the gender of an embryo or gender selection has been a divisive issue for since time immemorial. Although this has been an ongoing practice for decades, with sperm sorting and other methods, the thoughts of the public is contentious. While some support this treatment, others criticize the practice.
What is Gender Selection?
It is a procedure wherein a couple desiring to have a child can have a hand on choosing the gender or sex of their child prior to conception. There are two known methods available, sperm sorting and IVF with a PGD (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis). PGD is a scientific advancement wherein a single cell from an embryo is extracted for genetic testing. It is done to ensure the egg to be fertilized has no genetic defects. Used in IVF, parents can now have the option to choose which embryos to implant, including the gender they prefer. The topic of pre-selecting the gender of a baby before conception have been in hot water for years now and people have expressed their views on this fertility method. Here are some arguments raised by supporters and critics.
List of Pros of Gender Selection
1. It gives the couple the option to plan a family.
Perhaps one of the positive sides of applying the gender selection method is the opportunity of would-be parents to raise the number of children they want. In some countries, limiting the size of a family is encouraged. In fact, in China, there was a 1979 law which prohibited families to have more than one child although over the years, there had been some changes. Also, there are couples who want a specific gender for a first-born. With this practice now available, mothers need not have to give birth multiple times just so they can have a baby with the gender they prefer.
2. It makes it easier for parents to take care of the kids.
Another advantage of sex selection which proponents find important is the capacity of parents to start a family. With having just enough number of children to raise, couples will be more capable to take care of their kids and give them good education as well as proper nutrition.
3. It is advisable for parents with genetic disorder problems.
There are medical conditions that are genetically related and gender specific that a mother or a father can pass on to a child. If this is a concern, pre-selection of gender before conception is an effective alternative to prevent this condition.
4. It gives parents enough time to prepare for the baby’s coming.
Supporters also find it practical to know the gender of the baby of an expectant mother so it will be easier for them to get ready for the coming newborn like preparing the nursery, buying clothes or hand down the old clothes and stuff of an older child with the same gender.
5. It makes parents more caring and loving to the child.
Proponents believe that it is possible for a parent or parents to want a baby with a gender they prefer. If this is the case, they say that it would be best for the family, especially the child about to be born, if the gender of the baby is what the parents desire. This way, they will be more loving to the child. And if a family is already consist of four boys and the parents want a girl, being given the chance to choose the gender of the next child with the possibility of making their wishes come true will make the family happier.
6. In instances where parents have lost a child, this can be a way to get over the loss.
For some pro-gender selection supporters, the pain of a couple who have suffered death in the family, say, a child, will be relieved if they will be able to conceive a child with the same gender as the child they have lost. Although it might not necessarily replace the other child, the newborn with the same gender can lessen the grief and give the family the chance to move on.
List of Cons of Gender Selection
1. It is a breach of morals and ethics.
One of the issues opponents are raising is the ethical and moral implication of breaking the law of nature, that is, the traditional way of conception without interfering with the gender of the unborn child. For them, parents should not act like “God” and deliberately choosing the sex of their baby.
2. It is an impractical expense.
Another contention of critics is the high cost of scientifically implanting an embryo with a specific gender. The amount is around $20,000 on the treatment alone. This is on top of the other expenses the couple need to save for. They also refute the accuracy of the method since it is not 100%, except for the IV with PGD which is not allowed for every couple who dreams to have a child. This is only permitted on parents after they have passed the criteria like the need to prevent genetic issues.
3. It might not be a good decision for the parents in the long run.
Critics say that there is no assurance parents who have undergone a complicated process to conceive a child or children will remain happy with the decision they have made. If things will not work out the way they have hoped for, they might end up with rue and consider it a mistake. Opponents say that if conception was done the natural way, there will be lesser chances of regret.
Although gender selection is an ongoing practice, there are still moral and ethical considerations debated upon by proponents and opponents. The privilege of choosing the gender of child a couple desires to have seems to be the most logical choice for some, but, it also brings up the question of morality when it comes to the embryos not selected in the process. At the end of the day, the burden and the decision lie on the hopeful parents. In the meantime, this will still be a controversial issue.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.