Couples are reportedly paying up to £30,000 to travel to the US to undergo a medical procedure to choose the sex of their baby.
Advances in IVF technology mean it is now possible to determine the sex of an embryo in the laboratory, before it is placed in the womb, with 100 per cent accuracy. This procedure is currently banned in Europe with sex selection for social or ‘family balancing’ reasons being made illegal in the UK in October 2009, so couples are opting to travel abroad to countries such as the US where the practice is legal.
Although many couples with one child admit they would prefer another child of the opposite sex, studies show that very few of these couples would take deliberate steps to guarantee this – in fact many people feel intuitively there’s something not quite right about interfering with what nature intended.
I am expecting my second baby in two weeks time and I have been surprised at how many people ask if we know the sex and then offer an opinion that they ‘bet we must want a girl this time’ as we already have a little boy.
It is believed that most couples who undertake treatment do so to ‘balance’ their existing family. Critics of the treatment suggest this ‘family balancing’ could lead to a cultural bias toward one gender, particularly in countries such as India and China where parents almost exclusively want a male child, while experts believe the effect will have no detrimental impact on the World’s population ratios because current numbers of couples having treatment are small.
Women who undergo the process first attend an IVF clinic in the UK, where they go through the egg-stimulation stage. They then fly to the US for the remainder of the treatment.
With clinics claiming 100% success rates, couples could now save time by placing an advance order on choice of cake for their Gender Reveal Party, another craze from the US to have swept our nation in recent months.
Is paying to ensure a boy or girl an acceptable practice that should be legalised or are we exploiting advances in science and taking the amazing gift of life a step too far?
What do you think about couples paying to choose the sex of their baby? Does the gender of a baby really matter so long as it’s healthy? Is this a purely selfish approach on the parents part to create the ‘perfect family’? Should these couples not feel content and fortunate that they can have a healthy baby in the first place, particularly when so many couples can’t even conceive?
Tell us what you think?