Most people undergoing IVF would be happy to have a baby of either gender.
But some couples are undergoing IVF not because they’ve had trouble conceiving – it’s because they desperately want a baby boy or a little girl.
An IVF clinic in the United States has revealed that one in ten of their patients looking for help in having a baby, also want to be able to pick whether they have a boy or a girl. In fact, the largest numbers of couples visiting this specific clinic, are travelling to the US from Australia, the UK and Canada.
Sex selection is illegal in all three areas (sex selection can only be considered in cases of sex-linked chromosomal disorders in Australia), but in the US it is not. Dr Daniel Potter, who runs a large fertility clinic in America – the HRC clinic in Newport Beach in California – told the UK Telegraph that the number of British couples travelling overseas so that they could pick the sex of their baby was increasing by a fifth every year.
Interestingly, Dr Potter also revealed that approximately 80 percent of couples who wanted to be able to choose the sex of their baby, asked for a girl. He also revealed that of the patients travelling from China, many wanted twins – with one child of each sex.
“Some [patients from the UK] have only one child but most have two or three of the same gender,” he told The Telegraph. “The process is driven by the mother who has identified with little girls since her own childhood and has always had a place for a daughter. When they do not have one, it is like a death and they grieve for their little girl.”
Couples who are visiting the HRC clinic usually don’t need help conceiving or any fertility treatment – they merely have the embryos screened, so that they can choose the sex of the baby. The process requires the couples to stay near the clinic for 12 days, and costs about US$15,000.
Many people have concerns with the idea of IVF being used for sex selection – although different from terminating a pregnancy on the basis of gender – because of fears that this might lead to gender imbalance in society. Others are concerned because sex selection is perceived to be interfering with something that should be natural and left up to chance.
The doctor defends parents right to choose their gender of their baby, and said that arguments saying it was “interfering with God’s will” were “absurd”.