8 arguments people make against IVF gender selection (and why they're wrong).

For the sake of clarity, this article is written from a mum who hopes to one day have a daughter. While this is the more common dynamic  (a family with 2+ boys hoping for a girl), there are also many families who desire a boy after multiple girls. Their desire is equally real, and equally important. This article applies to both.

I love my two boys.

They are my reason for being here. I would not for one second have preferred them to be girls. Let me be clear about that.

But… I have always imagined having a daughter AS WELL. I see her chasing her brothers around the backyard, arguing over the middle seat in the car, and causing just as much love and heartache as her brothers in our house.

It isn’t about pink and Barbies (good luck to her getting my oldest son to share them!). It is about her. I can’t imagine a life without her, and frankly I don’t want to. I want my boys to grow up with a sister; to learn from the very beginning that a woman can be your best friend and that she deserves love and respect. I want my daughter to learn how a boy should treat her, with dignity and kindness and an expectation that she can do anything.

I want to see my husband hold his daughter in his arms and know that there is now another female in the world that he will love and protect even more than he does me… and that’s ok. Because I remember how I felt when I first held our boys. And of course, I want my daughter for me. I already know I am a great mum to my boys. I see that every day. And I know I would be a great mother to a daughter as well.

There are many people out there who are against the idea of gender selection. But what I am asking for today is those people to stop for a moment; to stop thinking of their own personal circumstances and to stop thinking of the friend who is struggling to conceive, or the aunty who was happy with her four boys.

Try to see these facts for exactly what they are… actual facts.

There are the most common things people say as reasons why you shouldn’t choose the gender of your child. Obviously, if you have your heart set against sex selection, this isn’t going to change your mind. But hopefully it will change your actions.

1) “You are so ungrateful. You should be happy with what you have!”

These parents are not evil. They are not ungrateful. Believe it or not, these parents are incredibly grateful for their children they have already been blessed with. They bring them an immeasurable amount of happiness and these parents thank their lucky stars every day for being able to parent their children. But this isn’t about them. This is about a longing that the family have had, sometimes all of their life, to parent BOTH sexes.

“A father wanting to experience that fierce protectiveness that only really emerges with their little princess.” Image via iStock.

A mother wanting to experience that special bond with a daughter. A father wanting to experience that fierce protectiveness that only really emerges with their little princess. Brothers wanting a baby sister to spoil; to love and protect.

This is about parents who have a genuine longing to have a daughter AS WELL as their sons, NOT instead of. These families still wish all of the luck in the world to infertile families. They think it is horrible that they have trouble conceiving. They think it is unfair that they haven’t yet got their families, and they pray that things change. But denying them a daughter isn’t going to help those other families any quicker. Instead there are two families who feel incomplete. If they can wish all of the luck in the world to you, why can’t you do the same for them?

2) “How dare you change the sex of your baby! That’s disgusting!”

There is no alteration of the Embryos. People seem to be misled and think that the embryos are “changed” to make them a desired sex. This is FALSE. What happens is the exact same process that you see with normal IVF. The eggs are injected with the sperm, and then they are tested. First they are tested for major abnormalities, and then chromosomal issues (such as Down syndrome). Lastly, they test the sex of each embryo.

The parents then have the embryo of their desired sex implanted and cross their fingers. Not every embryo takes. A lot of Australian families are coming home without the promise of a baby. But never, not once, not even for a second, are those embryos changed. The girl embryo was always a girl, and the boy embryo was always a boy. There is no greater chance of the child growing up to be transgender than there is with any other child in Australia.


3) “This is a slippery slope. Next you will want only babies with blue eyes and blonde hair!”

There is no “slippery slope”. This seems to be a flawed argument for many reasons. People scream that everyone will want “designer babies” but this just isn’t feasible.

For starters, determining the sex comes down to xx or xy. One chromosome. They say that an average woman will create five embryos in a normal cycle, and from that only one embryo will be viable. If you are wanting a certain sex, that means you only have a 50/50 chance of getting that sex from that 1 viable embryo (which is why it can take 2 or more rounds of IVF for sex selection).

Now to determine something like height, eye colour, hair, and anything else you can think up, it would involve several chromosomes to be a certain type. That is, it takes several chromosomes for each individual trait. This means that you would need to be testing up to 1000 embryos in the hopes of getting that one desired embryo. And that is assuming that technology will be that advanced anytime in the near future. And even if it is, there will be parameters and boundaries in place for families wanting to go the IVF route for sex selection. Placing a simple rule of “you are only allowed to choose which sex embryo is to be implanted” would eliminate any issue.

4) “Stop playing God!”

We are not playing God (anymore than anyone else). To ban Sex Selection because it is “playing God” should also mean to ban IVF completely. Oh and cancer treatment. And vaccinations. And any other man-made gift from science that has evolved over the years to make our lives that little bit better. IVF is the exact same procedure. The embryos are still created the exact same way. Unless you consider IVF to be playing God as well, sex selection is just finding out the sex of your child a little earlier.

“There is no ‘slippery slope’.” Image via iStock.

5) “It is illegal to have an abortion for sex selection!”

Sex Selection Abortions ARE already happening in Australia. Between the years 2003 and 2013, there was 1000 “missing girls” reported from the Australian birth registry. This is to say, hospitals around Australia did 1000 ultrasounds at their halfway point, told the mothers they were expecting girls, and then four months later… nothing. These women never returned.

It has been deduced that majority of these women were of Chinese-Australian or Indian-Australian heritage, where boys are seen as a superior race, and so when faced with giving birth to a daughter, they have gone to their private GPs and been referred to the abortion clinics. This isn’t just limited to cultural reasons however. Some women who already have all boys are going through with this in their desperate attempt for a daughter. While a horrible circumstance for all involved, you have to question… These women are going to get their desired children one way or another.

Which is worse: allowing women to choose which embryo is implanted through sex selection IVF, knowing that that child is truly wanted and will be loved and cared for? Or allowing women to continue falling pregnant naturally, and endure multiple abortions on their journey? At the moment only one of those is seen as acceptable in our country. And it is definitely the wrong one.

6) “But what if your daughter grows up to identify as a male? Will you feel ripped off? Won’t your daughter feel more pressure to conform to female stereotypes knowing you chose her gender?”

In an answer, no. My daughter won’t feel like she needs to be anything. Because I will raise my daughter to know that no matter what, I will always love her.

When asked this question, Jayne Cornwill (the brave mum who has come forward to share the story of how she got her daughter after three boys) has answered simply “All she has to do is wake up and breathe in the morning and I am happy, as long as my children are happy that is all I care about.”

Children that are a result of sex selection will have no more stereotypes and expectations to live up to than any other naturally conceived child. Anyone with a child already knows that all children are different, and long gone are the ideals that only girls can play with dolls and only boys can like digging in the dirt.

7) “But what happens to the unwanted embryos? You just destroy them! How horrible!”


People who go through Sex Selection IVF have the same choices as those who just have IVF. IVF couples have been choosing for years to freeze the embryos for later use for themselves, donate the embryos to science or other infertile families, or destroy their unused embryos. It has always been a personal choice made between the couple, and free from the judgement and hateful comments.

The thing that doesn’t get told in the media is that a lot of the time the families who travel to the US for sex selection donate their leftover embryos to the US clinics. If sex selection was available in Australia however, these embryos would be donated to infertile AUSTRALIAN families. Rarely is this information put in the articles. Explaining that while completing their own families these mothers are also helping to bring children to many other families doesn’t help their story of the “monstrous, selfish, ungrateful mother” that they like to portray these women as.

“Things would be so much easier if they were just content with their families.”

8) “Why should we have to pay for this? What a drain to the medical system!”

These families don’t want Medicare to cover their sex selection IVF. They are more than happy to foot the bill. At the moment they are paying $15,000 for each cycle, plus medications ($2000+), plus their flights to the US, and accommodation for up to two weeks at a time.

They would gladly pay the entirety of the IVF fees if it means that they don’t need to leave the country for this procedure. As an extra point, there are up to 150 couples flying overseas for this procedure each year. That is a lot of money that would otherwise be spent in our country. IVF centres have reportedly been cutting back and closing their doors due to lack of patients in Australia. By allowing sex selection in Australia there would again be a bigger demand, creating more jobs for Australians and allowing IVF clinics to lower their costs for patients who are using IVF for medical reasons. Not to mention the earlier fact that this would also mean that these families could donate their remaining embryos to infertile Australian families.

Please be kind to the families who are going through with sex selection IVF. They don’t want to feel this way. Things would be so much easier if they were just content with their families. Pointing out that you don’t understand or agree does nothing but alienate them further. At the end of the day, whether a family decides to do this procedure or not, it isn’t going to affect you or anyone else outside of their immediate family. Everyone has different beliefs. Everyone has different struggles. Everyone deserves respect.

Thank you.

What do you think of gender selection? Would you ever consider it? Do you know someone who has?