Australia to ponder sex selection

By Michael Cook

Ian Olver,  chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee

Ian Olver, chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee

Sex selection is on the agenda in Australia. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has called for public comment on new guidelines for IVF clinics. The most contentious change involves removing a ban on destroying embryos because they are not of the desired gender.

In an article in The Conversation the chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, Ian Olver, gives a number of reasons why this could be an appropriate change. He dismisses the notion of a slippery slope towards selecting for genes and creating designer babies:

“Aside from such choices not yet being medically possible, the slippery slope argument may falter because there’s no natural progression between approving non-medical sex selection and approving being able to select other characteristics. Sex selection is a discrete choice around which a definite boundary can be drawn.”

Australians are already selecting the sex of their children, but they are “forced” to go to overseas clinics, in places like the U.S. or Thailand. Professor Olver says that this could be risky, because “not all international clinics have the same standard of care that exists in Australia.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at www.bioedge.org and is reprinted with permission.