This is a hard story to stay on the fence about. I’m not going to try. I find it extremely distressing.
A Victorian couple have taken some pretty extraordinary steps in their quest for a daughter. In fact they have even gone to court to demand the right to choose the sex of their next child through IVF Selection.
The couple who have not yet been named have three sons, all born naturally (without IVF). They also conceived and gave birth to a daughter who died shortly after childbirth (in undisclosed circumstances).
The wife admits that she loves her sons but would do anything to have a daughter. She is clearly suffering some pretty horrific grief over her daughter’s death and she admits that she has become obsessed with having a daughter, even claiming it is vital to her psychological health
The couple say that they are not trying to replace their daughter, they just have enough sons and now want a girl. They “deserve” a daughter . The husband says “After what we have been through we are due for a bit of luck. We want to be given the opportunity to have a girl.”
I am sure that many people believe they deserve a child. Any child.
But this couple recently terminated a twin pregnancy when they discovered that they were carrying two boys. Their reasoning? They don’t want any more boys and they could not continue to have unlimited numbers of children. They want to try IVF again but pre-select only girl embryos for implantation. I have not met the couple and I am sure that there are elements of this story that have not been conveyed by the media. If by “I am sure” you mean “I hope”.
Because to me, the idea of a healthy pregnancy being terminated due to the gender of the foetuses? That is impossible to comprehend.
I am all for choice. Termination is a reality that I accept and understand. But not because you aren’t happy with the sex of the baby. Like most women I have seen and experienced miscarriage and infertility all around me. Women who are desperate to have a child. Women who would do anything to have not lost the child they were carrying.
The Patient Review Panel, an independent medical body has rejected their bid to choose the gender of their next child and so the couple have taken their case to Victoria’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal which has the power to reverse the earlier decisions. The case will be heard in March.
According to Victoria’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 sex selection is banned unless it is necessary to avoid the risk of transmission of a genetic abnormality or genetic disease to a child. All IVF clinics in Australia also subscribe to National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines that say sex selection should not be done except to reduce the transmission of a serious genetic condition.
Professor Gab Kovacs who is one of Australia’s IVF pioneers (although he is not involved in this case) argues that the couple should be allowed to choose the sex of their next baby. He argues that sex selection will not harm anyone and that law should only be made to protect people from things that are going to damage them.
However, one only has to think of China and the gender imbalance to wonder if whether what is right for one individual couple is right for society as a whole.
Gene Ethics director, Dr Bob Phelps ,said he did not believe the couple should be allowed the choose the sex of their child. In fact he encourages them to adopt a child from overseas saying “I’m sorry they lost their daughter but, in the interests of society as a whole, they should seek some counselling for their grief and look for another way of getting a daughter into their family.”
The couple are so adamant that they want a daughter that they plan to go for IVF in the States if their case is not overturned.
Where do you stand, legalities aside? Do you think we should be allowed to select the sex of our children based on our desire for either a son or a daughter? Do you know the feeling of wanting a son/daughter so badly that you would go to any lengths?