An Australian couple is fighting for the right to sex-selective IVF. They want a girl, having lost their only daughter — and have already aborted twin male fetuses conceived through IVF.
According to the Herald Sun, an independent bioethics panel rejected their request for pre-implantation sex selection in favor of a girl. That's because in Australia, as in many countries apart from the U.S., sex selection in IVF is only allowed to prevent genetic diseases or abnormalities.
The unnamed couple already has three boys, conceived naturally. Their daughter died as an infant, and the paper says the woman "admits she has become obsessed with having a daughter and it has become vital to her psychological health."
The next step is a hearing before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which is expected to take place in March.
India and China have strict regulations against sex selection (which can take place during IVF, or after conception), though even their governments admit those regulations haven't traditionally done much to prevent the gender ratio artificially skewing male. But preference for male babies isn't universal; in Germany, for example, a survey found no clear sex preference; in the U.S., couples usually say they prefer girls. When non-medical sex selection was allowed at the Sydney, Australia IVF clinic, the preference for girls was about 60/40, and say that "women were the predominant driver of the IVF-based sex selection process."
The United Kingdom has a similar policy to the one the Australian couple faces, which has led some British couples seeking specific sexes to clinics in the U.S., where the practice is allowed. (Some clinics apply their own policies, including "family balancing" — allowing couples to choose the sex if they already have at least one child.) Robert Brzyski, chairman of the ethics committee at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, told The Times of London last year, "The tradition in the US has been to not interfere with the reproductive choices of American citizens." Well, sort of.