Should Parents Be Allowed to Select the Sex of Their Baby Research Paper

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Parents be Allowed to Choose their Baby's Gender?


Should Parents be Allowed to Choose their Baby's Gender?

A revolutionary lab technique, called sperm sorting, can now establish the gender of an offspring (Mail Online, 2013). The sperm carries the sex chromosome of a future child and sorting involves choosing the desired sex chromosome and then inseminating a woman with it. Gender can also be selected by abortion and before the embryonic stage through IVF or in vitro fertilization. Gender selection has been the subject of much debate because of its many consequences (Mail Online).

Artificial insemination consists of inserting concentrated sperm into the uterus to achieve a greater chance of fertilization (Stephens, 2011). Other methods are used to choose the gender of the baby. One is by using a dye on the desired gender from the sperm and then returning the dyed cell into womb. The Ericsson method identifies the desired sex cell in the sperm, sorts it out and then re-inserted into the womb. The Whelan method deals with timing intercourse according to the desired gender. This $4 billion assisted reproductive technique, however, has caused fiery contention. It has raised moral questions, financial concerns, and health issues (Stephens). Expert answers are needed to address these multiple issues.

Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGD

The practice has been riddled with a variety of objections (Knoppers et al., 2006). Ethical issues revolve around the status of the embryo and the duties, interests and motives of its parents. Social issues deal with access to, and the impact of, the technology and the physician's duties (Knoppers et al.). PGD has been used since 1990 for medical use, such as to test aneuploidy in low prognosis and for single gene and x-linked diseases in couples with the risk (Robertson, 2003). Recently, there evolved new medical as well as non-medical uses of PGD. Among the new medical uses are screening for rare Mendelian diseases and susceptibilities, late-onset diseases, and HLA matching for living children. Non-medical uses have attracted dispute because they do not relate to the health of unborn children or others in the family. Analysts predict that PGD will eventually be used for non-medical traits, such as intelligence, height, beauty, hair and eye color, memory and other features. These, however, do not promise to occur soon as they require many different genes, which are not subject to easy mutational analysis as the Mendelian disease or susceptibilities. Next to gender, which is identifiable through karyotyping, determining perfect pitch is the likeliest to develop (Robertson).

The use of PGD to choose the gender of an offspring is controversial because of the bias it imputes on women, the social disruption it tends to create, and the discarding of living embryos. The biggest social effect of gender selection concerns that of the first child. A male is commonly desired as the first child. If gender selection will be officially approved, this can tilt the balance and create much disparity in the population's sex ratio. PGD is also expensive and inaccessible for the majority. Pre-selecting the gender of the second child to balance or offset that of the oldest child appears to incite a change of sexism. Different rearing experiences evolve with rearing those with different genders. Some sectors, however, like feminists, content that the mere focus on a specific gender is in itself sexist. This is especially when social attitudes and expectations influence the constructing of sex role expectations and behavior. Other feminists consider the choice of a child with a gender opposite that of existing ones as morally acceptable if the intent and consequences are not sexist in themselves (Robertson).

The Two Sides

The Objections

This procedure, technically known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD, screens embryos for non-medical characteristics, which include gender (Dahl, 2003). This aspect is what has invited a number of objections (Robertson, 2003). One is that PGD is designed to detect genetic disorders and gender preference is not a disorder. Another is the possibility of moral conflict if the procedure destroys a living sperm in the process. A third says that a State, which permits PGD to allow or insure only the birth of heterosexual babies is an act of discrimination against homosexual citizens. A further objection to the third is that the parents will be discriminating against homosexuality itself. The fifth is that
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PGD will discourage the growth of the gay and lesbian population. The sixth is that the procedure discards living embryos with lives of their own. One more objection relates to the cost involved. A single round of IVF is said to cost an average of $12,400 excluding other procedures and which are usually not covered by insurance, and doctor's fees. It is also time-consuming. And the last is the loss of excitement surrounding the gender of a new offspring (Dahl).


Health is a foremost reason for approving, using or endorsing PGIG (Stephens, 2011).

Some diseases or health conditions pass on from a parent to an offspring of a specific gender. Examples are hemophilia and Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. Gender selection will prevent this transmission and being a carrier of the disease or health condition (Stephens).

Robertson (2003) analyzed the moral, social, and legal implications of PGD and then responded to the previously enumerated objections to the non-medical use of gender selection, such as determining the offspring's sexual orientation for him or her. But he clearly and strongly endorsed the use of PGD to determine an unborn offspring's gender.

To the objection that gender selection is not a disorder, which needs pre-determination,

Robertson refutes that practitioners have been used to providing services, which do not accord direct medical benefit but confer much personal value to those seeking it. Examples are breast enlargement, hair replacement, and cosmetic surgery, such as ultrasound-assisted liposuction. These uses have not been questioned or condemned for merely acquiescing to a lifestyle or personal preference (Robertson).

The second objection on the charge of discrimination against homosexual persons, Robertson (2003) responds that the right to use PGD is not the same as making PGD a duty to insure the birth of heterosexual children. Discrimination can occur only if and when the government itself compels the use of PGD. In response to the third objection, the preference for a heterosexual child over a homosexual child in using PGD is not necessarily a negative position against the worth of gay and lesbian persons. Parents who choose PGD to assure the birth of heterosexual children do so out of the desire for their children to get married, form their own families and have their own children. It is not morally wrong to desire that one's children should have the same sexual orientation as their parents (Robertson).

That PGD will discourage the growth of the gay and lesbian population is not likely because of the high cost of the procedure (Robertson, 2003). If any, PGD will reduce the heterosexual population on account of cost and the tediousness of the procedure. Furthermore, a reduction in the gay and lesbian population does not indicate a reduction in concern for them. This can be compared to the case of disabled persons. Their number has decreased but support for them has increased. Hence, PGD cannot be responsible for any reduction in the population or welfare of homosexual people. And the last objection, which relates to the discard of living embryos, Robertson (2003) expressed doubts about these embryos' intrinsic human rights comparable to viable human beings. Human rights deal with the moral and legal protection of the basic interests of a human being. An embryo is too rudimentary in its stage of development to possess any the same interests as full-grown persons. He does not see embryos as possessing those rights. He sees only some "symbolic value" as prohibiting or contesting their destruction at the lab. If the desire to have children of a preferred sexual orientation is morally legitimate, then the destruction of embryos to achieve this morally legitimate goal should also be valid or justified (Robertson).

Robertson (2003), in his replies to all the objections, sees no obstacle for parents to opt for the use pf PGD in choosing the gender or sexual orientation of their offspring. He only recommends that they should be allowed to insure the birth of either heterosexual or homosexual children (Robertson).


Science has vastly expanded provisions for health and personal endowments.

PGD is among those endowments and miracles in current time. Robertson's replies to all the objections serve as basis for the choice parents must make as regards the gender or gender preference of their future offspring. That privilege and freedom are the foremost factors to the decision. Unbiased opinions and sentiments are also helpful. Other factors to consider are financial, emotional and moral in nature. Parents should secure the expert opinion and guidance of an OBGyn and other practitioners specializing in advanced reproductive techniques for updated info and their separate opinions.

Embryo screening for gender or gender orientation eventually can become acceptable or unacceptable,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Dahl, E. (2003). Ethical issues in new uses of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis:

should parents be allowed to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to choose the sexual orientation of their children? Vol. 18 # 7, Human Reproduction. Retrieved on November 11, 2013 from

Knoppers, B.M. et al. (2006). Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: an overview of socio-

ethical and legal considerations. Vol. 7, Annual Review of Genomic and Human

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