The capabilities of fertility treatments have made vast improvements in recent years, and one of the most debated developments is the ability to select the gender of a baby during the IVF process. In recent years, many fertility clinics have begun to offer add-on services during fertility treatments, including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a procedure used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF) primarily to reduce the risk of aneuploidy and passing on inherited conditions with the intention to provide couples with the information they need to make informed decisions about their family planning.
However, this test results in information including the gender of embryos. Increasingly, PGD is a standard part of the IVF journey (increasing from >4% in 2008 to >40% of IVF cycles in 2018) and though many do not discuss it explicitly in the context of gender selection, it is often used for this purpose. While some people view this as a significant advancement in increasing autonomy during the fertility journey, there are others who have raised ethical and moral questions about the practice.
On one hand, proponents feel that gender selection during fertility treatments provides individuals and couples with the ability to balance their families and complete their dreams of having children of a specific gender. For example, if a couple has three children of the same gender, they may choose to have a child of the opposite gender through gender selection. According to a recent survey, of clinic respondents offering non-medical gender selection, >93% reported performing sex selection for family balancing, and >81% reported performing selection for elective purposes based on the patient preference.
Clinics and individuals who support gender selection during fertility treatments believe that it is a matter of personal choice and should be left up to the individuals involved. Additionally, choosing gender can be a way to prevent sex-linked genetic diseases and to increase the chances of having a healthy baby in certain cases with predispositions.
On the other hand, opponents argue that gender selection during fertility treatments is potentially unethical and could lead to a gender imbalance in society. For example, globally, the number of males has exceeded the number of females since the mid-1960s, with the latest data indicating a ratio of 106 male to 100 female births. Though the UN experts parity by 2050, this imbalance could persist in part due to gender selection during fertility treatments.
Those against gender selection often raise a concern that it could perpetuate sexist attitudes and stereotypes, and even create a market for gender-based abortions. Moreover, often citing religious reasoning, some people believe that gender selection goes against the natural process of procreation and that we should not be manipulating the gender of future generations. Finally, PGD and other gender selection methods are controversial because they involve the screening and likely destruction of embryos based on the selection of expected traits of offspring.
The topic of gender selection during fertility treatments is a highly debated issue, with valid arguments on both sides. It is important to consider the ethical, moral, and social implications of this practice before making a decision. While these services are still controversial and raise ethical questions, they provide couples with new options for family planning and offer a way to fulfill their dreams of having a child of a specific gender. However, ultimately, the decision to pursue gender selection during fertility treatments is a personal one that should be based on individual values, beliefs, and circumstances.