'What's so bad about choosing the gender of your baby?'

Is it really such a bad thing to allow parents the ability to choose the gender of their baby?

It was these words which scratched the wounds of many of our readers this morning:

“I might seem ungrateful because I already have three healthy sons. But unless you’ve experienced gender disappointment, you can’t understand how crippling it can be.”

The very idea that a mother could be disappointed in what gender her child was seems shocking. Unnatural.

Words like “selfish” and “bitch” were cast at her. You don’t deserve children. 

Passionate raw stories of infertility were posted.

Heartbreaking tales of loss and disappointment.

All in relation to the news that the National Health and Medical Research Council are considering changing the rules on gender selection in Australia.

All in relation to the idea that women might be given the option to pick girl or boy just before they decide on the Bugaboo or the Mountain Buggy.

Is gender selection really so bad?

Social media outraged that something “natural” and “god-given” could be a lifestyle choice.

Their outrage is one shared with the Australian public who overwhelmingly disagree with gender selection through IVF.

In fact a 2013 Roy Morgan poll found only one in five Australians supports the process.

Australians feel it is “playing god”, it is “changing nature”, it is a “slippery slope” to designer babies.

But I am not so sure.

Only one in five Australians supports gender selection being made available.

What I struggle to understand in debates like this is why, when it really won’t affect the rest of us we care so much.

Women who say they would like the ability to go through the expensive and lengthy IVF procedure speak of the hold so called “gender disappointment” has over them. They speak of the “emotional torment” they feel.

Whether or not I agree that being disappointed you won’t be able to go shopping for pink tutus in the future equates to “emotional torment” these women say their feelings are very real.

And its difficult to deny another’s feeling exist no matter what their determinate is.

Whether or not I agree that being disappointed you won’t be able to go shopping for pink tutus in the future equates to “emotional torment” these women say their feelings are very real.

The fact is I think we all need to calm down a little about predictions gender selection will be the end of our society as we know it.

I think we need to calm down a little from talk it is “playing god” because let’s face it that’s what science is, isn’t it?

I think we need to back off from fears that, in Australia, it will create a gender imbalance and look at it for what it really is.

A family looking to balance the boys and girls in their household. A couple desiring the baby of their dreams. A (possibly superficial and warped yes) desire to buy gingham lace curtains or have a household filled with cricket bats.

But an overwhelming desire none-the less.

Is that really so bad?

I haven’t experienced the loss of a baby, or struggled with fertility and I in no way mean to take from that or devalue the ache I imagine overshadows every aspect of your life.

But I don’t imagine families wanting to use gender selection wish to downplay the emotions of infertile couples either.


They just want a baby girl.

This family, with seven sons, from NSW spoke to 60 Minutes about why they went through gender selection in the US. Post continues after video. 

In fact 85% of gender selection processes are for female babies and while they have about a 95% chance of getting one through the gender selection process called PGD, what they can’t guarantee is the baby girl is going to have the personality they hope for.

Monash University professor and fertility specialist Gab Kovacs said this morning he couldn’t see what harm it could do.

“It’s not something that should be encouraged, but I think if someone’s prepared to do it and they’re prepared to pay for it, I don’t see what harm it would do to the community,” Professor Kovacs said.

I have friends who have gone through IVF and it can be a soul-crunching experience. I can’t imagine anyone would put themselves through that for a reason that’s flippant. In order to endure that, both physiologically and financially you have to be invested, and to be blunt, fairly cashed up.

The biggest problem in this debate is the publicity of families who have gone to extreme lengths to get their desired child and their – frankly kinda thoughtless – comments about it.

South Australian mother Jayne Cornwill is one of these extreme examples. She told Fairfax Media last year that she paid $50,000 to have a baby girl in the US.

The mother of three sons said that every time she was told she was having a boy her heart broke, she wrote of how she considered aborting one of her sons when she found out he wasn’t female, and how she re-mortgaged her home, how she spiraled into depression, then how she spent – what is most would agree – a ridiculously large amount of money on having a girl.

Her life is now pink cupcakes and fairy wings. She is complete. She’s never looked back.

Except for the social media slaying she got.

South Australian mother Jayne Cornwill and her $50,000 daughter, Emmerson.

Except for the fact her sons now have the opportunity to read her bafflingly hurtful words in future years.

I think what we need to do in the debate is strike out these extreme cases, saying you would consider aborting a baby because it wasn’t your desired sex isn’t the norm.

Who knows what she really meant or where her mind really was.

What we need to remember is that the overwhelming sentiment expressed by women who say they would consider gender selection – women apart from those like Jayne Cornwill – is that they also say they wouldn’t do it if it harmed their chances of getting a baby, because their number one priority was having a healthy baby no matter what the gender.

No matter what.

And that’s the real core of this argument isn’t it?

For the small minority who desire it and can afford it I say let’s let them give a shot because everyone needs a dream don’t they and who are we to trample all over it.

Are you for or against allowing gender selection?

Want more?

My message to those considering gender selection? Be grateful for the baby you do have.