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The clinic where Australian couples are secretly going for gender selection.

Australians are travelling to the US to undergo IVF, so they can pick the sex of their baby.

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.

Should using IVF to pick the gender of your child be legal?

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”.

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“I think that pregnancy termination as a method of gender selection is not acceptable but I also believe that is it not for me to impose my values on other people,” he told the paper. “I believe women should have reproductive freedom and that should include selecting the gender of their child if they wish.”

“I have had patients come to me from the other side of the world who have never been on a plane before and have saved up for a long time, it is really very important to them.”

Choosing the sex of your child (when sex-linked chromosomal disorders are not a consideration) is considered to be sex selection for ‘lifestyle reasons’ – and inspires a strong reaction in many. Health website Body + Soul interviewed a number of industry experts about the issue, when the debate was last dominating headlines.

Dr Sandra Hacker, chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, told the website, “We will look at the views of the Australian public and whether they have changed. The primary reason the public are against gender selection at the moment is that the existence of a human being should not be based on what gender they are.”

Bob Phelps, director of the non-profit organisation Gene Ethics said that, “Gender is a chance you take when having children. You should not choose it for lifestyle reasons.”

Undergoing IVF to pick the gender of your baby costs about US$15,000.

But for women who choose to follow this path, the promise of having either a little boy or girl makes the cost – and any qualms that others may have – worth it.

Four years ago a Melbourne woman who had three boys travelled to Thailand and paid $15,000 to try and conceive a girl.

“I wouldn’t trade my sons for a million daughters – this is not about my sons. It is about me and my husband wanting a daughter. For me, it is about the desire to have a daughter being such a strong desire in me that I can’t seem to shake it,” she told the Herald Sun at the time.-

“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.”

Do you think couples undergoing IVF for the sole reason of being able to choose the sex of their baby is okay? 

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