You might soon be able to choose the sex of your baby.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is considering changing the rules in Australia on gender selection.

“We just really wanted a daughter and I had no ethical problems with it”

“I’ve been criticised for “playing God”, messing with nature and being superficial. I know that, to a childless woman struggling with infertility, 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.”

“I understand some people who can’t have their own children would be thinking, ‘you are lucky and you have three beautiful, healthy sons’. And that is true. But it is not about everyone else, it is about me and my husband and our choice, and women like me.”

These are just some of the views of Australian families who have undergone gender selection.

The controversial process whereby parents pick the sex of their baby through IVF.

Boy or girl? It’s up to you.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is considering changing the rules in Australia on gender selection

The process – currently illegal in Australia – has seen families fork out up to $50,000 to get those desired booties by travelling overseas – in most cases it seems pink is the fashionable shade.

But travelling to the US or Thailand to purchase your selected sex may be a thing of the past with the National Health and Medical Research Council considering changing the rules in Australia.

The MHMC has opened its consultation draft to public comment and is looking primarily for feedback on sex selection for non-medical purposes – along with the idea of compensating women for donating their eggs and the establishment of an Australian egg donor bank.


In Australia it is already possible for those families with a risk of genetic abnormalities to choose the sex of their babies.

The NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee chair Ian Olver said it was time to question whether it should be allowed for non-medical reasons such as family balancing.

The NHMRC found the debate “would be enhanced through the exploration of some of the complex ethical and social issues raised by non-medical sex selection, through the use of illustrative case studies”.

Case studies such as family balancing, the replacement of a child, whether they want the same sex or a different sex; or other borderline medical reasons, such as where a couple has a boy with autism and believes there would be less chance of their second child having autism if it was a girl.

The MHMC has opened its consultation draft to public comment and is looking for feedback on sex selection for non-medical purposes.

Monash University professor and fertility specialist Gab Kovacs told Fairfax Media he couldn’t see what harm it could do – saying most patients he saw who wanted the process had only boys and wanted a girl.

“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.

Michael Sandel, a Harvard University professor told CNN that the reason for the ban on selecting gender for lifestyle reasons is because of a concern about creating a gender imbalance.

“In China now, there are 117 boys for every 100 girls. In parts of northern India, it’s 140 boys for every 100 girls.”

Some European countries and Canada hold a similar view about creating a gender imbalance – but in the US gender selection is readily available.


One mother, Jayne Cornwill 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.

Jayne Cornwill and her daughter. ( Facebook)

Three times over.

She openly admitted the disappointment. The depression. All because of the fact they were boys. With her third son she even actively considered aborting her baby because of his gender.

She wrote:

“I fell pregnant again when Jordan was 14 months old. Then came the 16-week ultrasound and the words I’d been dreading, “It’s a boy.” During the pregnancy I became so depressed I considered having an abortion. “


Mrs Cornwill wrote a controversial article espousing the benefits of gender selection. She wrote of her long battle and great expense to have her cherished daughter.

“ My desire for a daughter caused me to spiral into depression and left me virtually housebound. Every time I went out, toddlers in pink seemed to taunt me.”

So she re-mortgaged their home even before their third son was born, and travelled to the US for IVF gender selection.

It was not an easy process for this mother, taking two attempts to work but finally $50,000 later she heard the words she had been dreaming of.

“It’s a girl.”

( Oh, yes she was healthy too)

Another family, the McMahons who have six sons, spoke out about their desire for a daughter. They travelled twice to the US and now have two healthy baby girls.

“We just really wanted a daughter and I had no ethical problems with it. It doesn’t occur to me that it’s not right. I understand the other side of the story, but it doesn’t feel wrong, I don’t think it is wrong. I think it’s up to the individual family and I just don’t think it really matters what other people say.”

The McMahon boys.

But many feel it is a slippery slope to designer babies.


Bob Phelps, director of the non-profit organisation Gene Ethics told News Limited last year gender selection is dangerous “Gender is a chance you take when having children. You should not choose it for lifestyle reasons.”

Despite being legal in America the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists actually opposes sex selection.

There are reports that Kim and Kayne went through gender selection.


“Even when sex selection is requested for nonsexist reasons, the very idea of preferring a child of a particular sex may be interpreted as condoning sexist values and, hence, create a climate in which sex discrimination can more easily flourish.” They said earlier this year in response to claims that Kim Kardashian and Kayne West gender selected a boy for their second pregnancy.


Would you choose?

In Australia the public are divided on gender selection. Though a study by the Queensland Fertility Group showed half the women interviewed said they would not undergo gender selection if it would reduce their chances of falling pregnant.

“They’d rather have a baby of any gender than no baby at all,” said Carmel Carrigan who conducted the research.

Perhaps revealing that deep down gender selection isn’t that important to us at all.

What do you think? Should parents be able to choose the sex of their baby if they are willing to undergo the process?

Want more?

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