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article imageParents want right to choose baby's gender

By Kim I. Hartman     Jan 8, 2011 in Science
Melbourne - A married couple, still grieving the death of their newborn daughter and desperate to have another girl to add to their family of three boys, is seeking court permission to choose the sex of their next child in a test case of IVF sex-selection laws.
The Australian couple, who cannot be identified, appeared before the Patient Review Panel (PRP), in an unsuccessful bid to gain permission to choose the sex of their next child using in vitro fertilization (IVF), reports AdelaideNow.
In an effort to have the Panel's decision overturned, the couple have petitioned the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to request a review of their case.
AdelaideNow reported, "The tribunal will hear the couple's case in March."
The Herald Sun reported, the couple are so determined to have only a baby girl that they recently terminated the pregnancy of twin boys who were conceived through IVF. The couple, told the Herald Sun: "it had been a traumatic decision to make but they could not continue to have unlimited numbers of children."
In Australia, according to Victoria's Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act of 2008, [PDF] genetically pre-determining a child's gender, or "sex selection" is against the law, except in cases where parents suffer serious genetic diseases, reported AdelaideNow.
Australian IVF pioneer Gab Kovacs told news media "he could not understand why the couple should be banned from having a girl. I can't see how it could possibly harm anyone."
Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps emailed Digital Journal and said:
"It's always a risky business commenting to journalists. I spoke to Shelley (Hadfield, with the Herald Sun) for more than half an hour but she chose only to disclose the abortion toward the end of the interview. The report (in the Herald Sun) bent over backwards to exonerate the couple so it's no surprise I was quoted as saying they are good parents. Anyway, my unreserved view is that women should be empowered to make their own unfettered choices about abortion, which should (like contraception) be readily available."
He says "he fully support the national ban on gender selection, backed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and all Australian governments. My chief concern, not reported in the Herald Sun, is with the social and cultural impacts of gender selection on a large scale, such as in India and China. For instance, in China there are now 105 men per 100 women and the status and treatment of women is seriously degraded as a result."
Phelps said, "My view is that this couple should have professional counselling for their grief and daughter obsession and consider adopting one of the millions of infant girls dumped in Chinese orphanages. I also question the entitlement of fertile couples to use IVF treatments, especially at public expense."
The unnamed couple have told the Australian media including the Herald Sun: "If their bid to have a daughter fails in their home country and they lose the test case, which is set to go before the Tribunal in March, they will go to the US so they can conceive a baby girl."
More about Baby, Gender, Sex selection, Abortion, Australia
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