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Baby sex choice battle

  1. Oct 16, 2005 #1


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    Recent BBC news item:

    Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
    Baby sex choice battle

    A related story (different couple) from back in June:
    Woman pregnant after IVF sex choice

    A mother who travelled to Spain in order to choose the sex of her next child is pregnant with twin girls.

    Nicola Chenery, 33, from Plymouth, went to a clinic in Spain for the IVF treatment. She went ahead with the treatment because she longed for a daughter after giving birth to four sons.

    Such a treatment is outlawed in the UK unless the choice is made to protect the unborn child from sex-linked genetic disease.

    An earlier article about the first couple being denied the procedure:

    Monday, 13 March, 2000, 18:03 GMT
    Baby sex choice couple speak out

    seems to be legal in US. don't understand the social basis of difference
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  3. Oct 16, 2005 #2


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    contrasting situation in US


    Nice clear graphic explanations of two ways used to choose baby's sex:

    Method 1. uses IVF in vitro fertilization, then when embryo consists of about 8 cells remove one and check sex. Implant one with desired sex and destroy others

    Method 2. does not use IVF, it uses a flourescent dye which is preferentially absorbed by chromosomes, of which GIRL SPERM have more bulk, and so they GLOW more. So you can sort the sperm out----they show an electrostatic method. And then fertilization is IN UTERO.


    Method 2. is less expensive and probably less uncomfortable for the woman. the few percent more bulk comes from the X being bigger than the Y. so more dye. so more glow.

    I don't see anything wrong with letting couples choose. If they get into arguments about it that's their problem.

    here is an unctious whitecoat promotional from a lab that does the two methods:

    Some of the advertizing for the new "MicroSort" technology (fluorescent dye, laser illumination, telltale pinkish glow from the girl sperm) is icky. But so what if it is icky? Also I think the labs are overcharging people.

    But I think couples should be able to choose, and not be hassled, if they want to.

    Lots of folks think it is fun to be surprised anyway
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2005
  4. Oct 16, 2005 #3
    From HFEA:

    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) today announced recommendations to Government that sex selection techniques involving sperm sorting should be regulated in the UK, and that the current policy of only allowing sex selection to avoid serious sex-linked disorders should continue.

    Commenting on the review and recommendations, HFEA Chair Suzi Leather said:

    “We have found this a difficult issue. It has taken us over a year to reach conclusions because of their far-reaching nature. But it is clear that most people are against sex selection for social reasons. The HFEA has to balance the potential benefit of any technique against the potential harm. We are not persuaded that the likely benefits of permitting sex selection for social reasons are strong enough to outweigh the possible harm that might be done.”


    HFEA (draft)
    Review of SEX SELECTION:
    Society’s views on the new techniques were divided between pride in the
    technological achievement, pleasure at the new-found means to relieve,
    at least for some, the unhappiness of infertility, and unease at the
    apparently uncontrolled advance of science, bringing with it new
    possibilities for manipulating the early stages of human development.2

    25. This research identified few recent general population surveys of
    attitudes specifically towards sex selection. Research carried out in the
    USA in the 1970s and 1980s found that married couples with university
    education showed little desire to control the sex of the first child but a
    strong desire to influence the sex of their second to achieve a sex balance
    in the family. Whilst they opposed, in general, the use of termination of
    pregnancy as a method of achieving this balance, a significant proportion
    said they would use a reliable preconception method. More recent
    studies in the UK showed no significant overall preference for one sex
    over the other although a disproportionately high percentage of those
    actively seeking sex selection were from ethnic populations originating
    outside Europe; amongst these there was a marked preference for male
    children although this was from families who already had more than one
    female child and were nearing the end of their reproductive lives. These
    findings did not support the belief that permitting controlled sex selection for non-medical reasons would lead to a skewing of the sex ratio in the

    27. Cross-cultural studies identified use of new reproductive technologies for
    sex selection in newly industrialising countries, predominantly to favour
    of male offspring, although there was little evidence relating to whether
    traditional preferences for sons were retained after immigration to Britain
    or other European countries.

    28. The most strongly argued ethical case against the use of medically
    assisted sex selection found in the literature related to its perceived
    complicity with sexism and discrimination against women, although
    there were few attempts to argue that there was a likelihood of sex
    selection skewing the sex balance in Western societies since the preference
    here was generally for families with children of both sexes. Other
    commonly used arguments against sex selection were that it represented
    a ‘slippery slope’ and that it would divert scarce medical resources away
    from medical uses.

    Reasons for sex selection - prevent sex-linked diseases, family-balancing, preference for one sex or the other.

    Seems like the first is legitimate (but who knows what repurcussions that would hold), the second is unnecessary but harmless (or so it seems), and the third is unnecessary but poses ethical problems.

    It also poses a religious problem for Muslims:

    The debate also provided a context in which Muslim participants in
    particular explored the conflict between their cultural and religious
    perspectives, between the pressure to have male offspring and the belief
    that all children, whether male, female, healthy or disabled were a gift
    from Allah. However in the end the latter of these positions tended to
    hold sway and they therefore rejected sex selection on the basis that it
    constituted interference with this divine gift.

    And the technique is seen as invasive and an overall degradation of the human by most of the people against it.

    This is a quick scan of the reports, but that seems like the rub. I do see the point that those opposed to this make - the position we take on this (and it doesn't have to be one extreme or the other) reflects our attitudes towards a whole range social aspects, ie gender, status, kinship, and our religious/cosmological views. The idea of family-balancing seems to fall under some sort of social ideology, which may be reinforced and popularized if we allow this (I'm not trying to be alarmist here, just exploring the possiblities). If we just allow it for medical reasons, that also has something to say about how we think technology and science should function in society - right now it helps us gain more and more "control" (as we define it) over our lives and our surroundings. Allowing for sex selection reinforces the idea that we should be able to control such things.

    Personally, I think this obsession with control is not beneficial, but I do think that it isn't a completely black and white issue. Obviously I think the ability to save lives and live more securely is good; but I think we're overdoing it in some ways. I also think that we already have enough choices, and that having more doesn't necessarily make you happier or healthier (there was an article on the dilemma of choice somewhere). Here's the attitude in the US that holds all of what I am saying:

    "These are grown-up people expressing their reproductive choices. We cherish that in the United States," said Jeffrey Steinberg, director of the Fertility Institutes, which offers the service at clinics in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. "These people are really happy when they get what they want. These are heartwarming stories." from the 2nd post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62067-2004Dec13.html

    The US is esp concerned with choice, control, and appearing happy. Is that not why the attitudes and laws are different?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2005
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