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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 22:32 GMT
Should you choose the sex of your baby?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has ruled that parents should not have the legal right to select the sex of their baby.

At the moment UK law outlaws the practice - except in some cases for medical reasons alone - but some couples have travelled to countries where the technique is legal.

What do you think? Should parents be allowed to select the sex of their child?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your e-mails. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I think the issue is not so much moral as practical. In eastern countries, like China and Korea, there's a big problem with selective abortion. China has forty million more men than women. This is where the problem lies.
Louis, Belgium

There would only be a small number of people who would want to choose the sex of their child, the vast majority will just be happy with what they are given and wouldn't even consider choosing. I think that if you have two or more children of the same sex and you would like one further child of the opposite sex and you are willing to pay for IVF and go through the trauma of it, why not. Maybe we should be looking at those who choose abortion if they get a child of the 'wrong sex' instead.
Deb, UK

Whatever happened to respect for life as it comes?
Morgana, UK
Children are being regarded as fashion accessories by some individuals - please do not allow these unfit, whim driven potential parents to go ahead and think they can have designer babies as they wish!! Whatever happened to respect for life as it comes?
Morgana, UK

I'S SHOULD BE FOUGHT. This act of senseless thinking by these parents is, however, getting out of hand and it should be fought against in all over the world.
Chernor, Spain

God forbid! Being a happy mother of three boys, I wouldn't have it ANY other way.
Jane Wilson, USA, formerly UK

In many less developed countries unwanted babies (usually girls) are abandoned or killed as sons are generally regarded as the preferred sex so they can support their parents in later life. Allowing parents to choose the sex of their child is just a hi-tech way of doing the same thing. Let's just take whatever child we get... after all we are supposed to live in age of sex equality in the UK so it shouldn't matter anyway.
John R Smith, UK

No, because it will skew the balance between the sexes in a generation according to culture or fashion, which can't be healthy. Ask someone who is old enough to remember what life was like when nearly a whole generation of young men got wiped out in the Great War: I'm sure they'll tell you the imbalance wasn't all good.
Phil, UK

The only thing I have against choosing the sex of babies is the obvious impracticality
Matthew, UK
Strange, we don't think of phrases like 'playing god' and 'interference does more harm than good' when we see lives saved in hospitals every day. The only thing I have against choosing the sex of babies is the obvious impracticality: We could end up buggering up the ratio of boys to girls. Look at the social problems in China for example.
Matthew, UK

If you don't want to select the sex of your baby - and I don't - then don't do it. But why not allow others to? What harm does it do to you?
Ben, UK

When will scientists stop trying to play God?
Sue Orndal, UK

No they shouldn't have a say. Other wise how will we balance the sex in the future if every one wanted girls it wouldn't be fare.
Georgina, England

All these comments about how we 'must not interfere with nature' are absurd. Mankind interferes with nature every single day, from driving a car to cosmetic surgery. So why should being able to choose the gender of your baby be any different? It's sheer rank hypocrisy.
David, UK

Gender determination is the ultimate in over-bearing, controlling parenthood. Would such parents allow the child space to develop after birth?
Dermot Smyth, UK

Nature has always revolved around "The Survival Of The Fittest". Even if the birth of a gender-selected child could save the life of another, it should not be allowed from a moral and natural point of view. Scientists are beginning to think they can play God, but I believe that nature does a better job!
Andy, UK

Our survival depends upon technological development and innovation - those who cannot embrace it have no future on the planet
Steve Squires, UK
Let these interfering busybodies come up with VALID reasons for preventing parents from choosing the sex of their offspring. As for 'interfering with nature'- absolute humbug! Our whole existence depends on it i.e., if we were meant to fly we would have wings! Our survival depends upon technological development and innovation - those who cannot embrace it have no future on the planet.
Steve Squires, UK

I think people's disagreement is mainly due to a lack of knowledge of such an idea. It does seem intrinsically wrong and unethical, but perhaps this is because we know no better. Either way, I agree with the HFEA's decision. It's best left alone I think. If we're choosing the sex of our offspring, what on earth will we be choosing next? I don't think the floodgates should be opened - leaves scope for a dangerous future.
Faiza, England

If parents think that they are going to love a baby more because she's a girl or he's a boy, then they should question themselves deeply about the quality of their love as parents. The logical conclusion of choosing the sex of a child is to reduce humanity itself to a commodity, which will be then sold into slavery.
Christopher Gillibrand, Belgium

To Simon, UK: Although I admire your confidence in believing that 90% of the population think boys are more desirable than girls, I must also point out that if it is so, this might work against you in the long term. If nine males have to compete for every female, wonderful, never-learnt skills like cooking, looking after the kids, cleaning your woman's shoes and treating sex like a special gift rather than a female's everyday duty might emerge in the male population...I wish...we wish...let them do it girls.
Eva, Hungary/Britain

I believe it is morally wrong to allow parents to choose the gender of their baby. Mother nature knows best. Too much interference will do more harm than good!
Andrew, UK

It is so sad that selfish motives seem to rule supreme over unconditional Love!
Bola, England
No, I do not agree that parents should be given the right to select the sex of their baby. Why not allow nature to have its free course rather than manipulating and interfering with it. It is so sad that selfish motives seem to rule supreme over unconditional Love!
Bola, England

Amazing that when things like this come up everybody is instantly God-fearing. Try to find a decent reason.
Tom, England

It is the Creators choice for a male or female. We as humans do not have the right to control everything!
Stan W, US

It's sad that so many people regard children as 'their' possessions (as some people here have suggested) or as fashion accessories, to be selected as if they were on sale in a department store.
James King, England

I think something like that shouldn't be allowed unless there might be a serious problem with the baby
Cheryl Brown, Scotland

People who even dare to ask for this should be sterilised on the spot. Wanting to determine the gender of your child shows that you see children as something to own for yourself. Such people are never good parents.
John, UK

I have been trying to conceive for well over a year and found out three weeks ago I was pregnant. However, there have been problems and I am at high risk of losing the baby. I don't mind if it is a boy or girl, I just want a healthy baby.
Becky, USA

It is not right to interfere with nature
Rebecca Porter, England
You definitely should not be allowed to choose the sex of your baby. In my opinion there is no legitimate reason for wanting to do this, just because you, for example, already have a girl and you want a boy is a good enough reason. Just think of all those people who are unable to have children. It is not right to interfere with nature.
Rebecca Porter, England

Next people will be wanting to choose their babies hair colour, then eye colour, then the shape of their nose. Where does it all end? A pick n mix design your own baby store? People should be grateful for what nature gives them.
Sheldon Payne, UK

No, but it may not be possible to stop it. Unfortunately in some cultures there is a strange belief that a man is not a real "man" until he has fathered a male child. Thus, if choice is made available then this moronic attitude will lead to a male/female unbalance as far as numbers are concerned. Of course, political correctness will not allow this problem to be faced directly so that is why we will probably be stuck with it and all the attendant problems.
Al, UK

I remember a survey a few years ago which reported that if couples were able to choose the sex of their child, 70% would choose boys. Need I say anymore?
Chris, UK

I feel that parents who are willing to opt for sterilization after one child of each sex (2 total) or who choose the sex that does not carry the defective gene should be allowed to go ahead.
Patricia, US

If it is safe let people choose, if it all goes wrong, e.g. too many of one gender, then the government can ban/regulate it.
Alex, England

I am completely against sex choice, unless for genuine medical reasons. Why change the natural gender? The kid will find out inevitably and then maybe there will be some gender issues for him or her. I would hate it if I was that child.
Lousie, England

The potential side effects are very worrying
Simon, UK
I have no problem with choosing a child's sex, so long as it's regulated to avoid problems such as a 90% male population. However the potential side effects are very worrying. Once we start letting people pay to choose a child's sex it becomes easy to say "well, why not select for eye colour too?" and then "let's make sure our boy is a genius" until children aren't born they are built. Then there's the whole "we asked for a girl, you gave us a boy" and Christmas puppy syndrome. If you want a kid of a certain sex just adopt one. It's a lot less problematic.
Simon, UK

I am a female carrier of a rare genetic disease that would be fatal to a male. I would love to become a mother through nature but I have to keep in mind that very nature could be deadly to my creature. I still don't know what is morally right or wrong, I only know what is sad. Healthy parents that could rely on the beauty of nature and they don't. They are sad.
Monica Capoferri, UK

You can choose not to have a baby which may or may not develop several disabilities. People often do this because the child would have a hard life. So what's the problem with choosing to have a specific sex if it will give that child a better chance in life?
David Fulford-Brown, United Kingdom

No. This is yet another example of the 'I want..., I am entitled to..., I feel..., I..., I... etc. culture Babies are not just some sort of commodity for us to pick and choose. Just because we can do something, doesn't mean that we should do it. Why can't we just be grateful for what we have been given?! Why do we always want more and more and more?!
Enno Bolhuis, UK

I think it's sick to think that you will one day be allowed to choose which sex we would like our babies to be. I believe that what god gives us we should accept, we should not let Science destroy nature. You should be proud of your children what ever sex they are!
Luke, England

This procedure would probably not be adopted by the majority of expectant parents, even if it were legal
Lindsay, USA
I don't see why expectant parents should not have the legal right to choose the gender of their child. This procedure would probably not be adopted by the majority of expectant parents, even if it were legal. Judging from the comments on this page, many people would voluntarily not select the gender of their child due to ethical reservations. However, these individuals would not in any way be harmed by the expectant parents' decision to choose their baby's gender. The option should be available.
Lindsay, USA

If we can choose whether to get pregnant or not and whether to then continue with the pregnancy or not, I do not see where the legal objection to this lies. We crossed the line of influencing nature centuries ago. As for those objections based on "moral" or "religious" grounds, fine. But why do you want to impose YOUR morals on the rest of society? What gives you the right to determine whether someone who has had four boys or girls that they cannot choose the gender given all the other (life or death) issues they can choose?
Duncan, Italy

I sense there are a number of emotional responses here, probably from people who have not been able to have any children, let alone choose the sex. I don't think there is anything wrong in choosing to add a girl after you have had a boy, or vice versa. However, if choosing means terminating an otherwise healthy foetus that has to be wrong. If science can help people have boys and girls, rather than just all girls or all boys, why is that so wrong.
Tracey, UK

No. Even though we tell ourselves it is a free world there are things which are still to be left for the Creator, GOD.
Khalid, Nigeria

I don't believe in choosing the sex of your unborn baby. I'm a true believer in loving and accepting the sex God choose to bless us with.
Paula, USA

Why does everyone say it is wrong to interfere with nature in this way, yet agree to medication and life saving operations?
Sandy, UK
I am not in favour of this and I have my reasons, but why does everyone say it is wrong to interfere with nature in this way, yet agree to medication and life saving operations, all the while denying someone who wants to die, their right to death? We are already going against nature by prolonging lives through our medical know-how. The world is not a worse place for having more elderly people is it?
Sandy, UK

No way! Although the media keeps using the case of the family that wants a little girl, lets face it, we know that there are plenty of countries where boys are valued more than girls and that a decision of this kind would mean less girls being born. There are reasons for the gender make up of the global population.
Emily Compton, UK

I cannot understand why anyone would want to determine the sex of their child. As a father of three I wasn't concerned whether they were boys or girls so long as they were healthy. It is 'choice' gone mad!
Dave, UK

I don't think they should be allowed to choose the sex of their baby because of what is going on in India, China and probably other countries we don't know about yet. These countries see a baby boy as a blessing and a girl as a curse. They are currently having tests run to see the sex of the baby before it is born and terminating the pregnancy if it is a girl. I am not sure what they expect their 'precious' boys to do once their boys are ready to get married. Personally it is not something that should be pushed. Some limits have to be set even if technology and science allow us privileges that some are going to misuse.
Ms Jones, USA

Who are we to argue with nature?
Katie, England

I am against choosing the sex for cosmetic reasons
Simone E.G., Belgium
I have two boys. My husband and I would have liked to have another girl, but I am so happy with my boys ... I think the babies who come should be well received, independently of the sex, therefore, I am against choosing the sex for cosmetic reasons. I am in favour of it, if there are genetic problems for a couple that depend on the sex of the child.
Simone E.G., Belgium

I wouldn't want to be the kid of parents who had chosen my gender.
Lorraine, Scotland

What happens when the genes get mixed up and your chosen little boy wants to change into a woman later in life? Will you still be pleased that you demanded a boy? Will your little boy still be the light of your life? I think not!
Lea, Scotland

I think that parents should not be able to choose the sex of their unborn baby. I think that 'this isn't the will of God'. I think that, what is to be, they should 'let be'.
Brendon Sirju, Trinidad and Tobago

Who do we think we are God? We should leave it to nature and love our children no matter the sex!
Jonathan, Sweden

Marshall McLuhan (University of Toronto Professor, and brilliant man) once commented that before we blindly let science and so called progress take us wherever WE need to make conscious choices. I do not know how I feel about parents being able to choose the sex of their children BUT I firmly believe that we owe it to future generations to make sure that we actually think this thought as a society before we proceed. What effect will allowing this have on the bigger picture? Will this effect the relatively standard balance of approximately one man for one woman?
Amber, Canada

I am more curious to know WHY someone would choose the sex of a baby!
Fay, UK
I am more curious to know WHY someone would choose the sex of a baby! If it's as simple as "I've always wanted a boy" then it's silly. If it's based on culture or social pressures, then the world would be full of Chinese and Indian boys, who will have to marry other races, which will cause a whole other kettle of cultural problems (not that I'm against it). Maybe we could put some criteria before someone can choose the sex of the baby - i.e. having already had at least FIVE children of the same sex? On the whole, I'm greatly opposed to the idea though.
Fay, UK

The decision is sound on purely biological reasoning as well. Eugenics is a fallacy that is based on pseudoscience and a misinterpretation of evolutionary principles. Artificial selection against attributes will weaken the human gene pool and lower our natural fitness. So let rich people do it if they want. The rest will get their money.
Col, UK

People who argue for sex selection to prevent children suffering genetic illness should remember that this theory is the basis of eugenics. I'm sure they wouldn't say that couples carrying dangerous genes shouldn't reproduce. Natural selection is the reason the human race is here today. Science already allows us to live longer than we are meant to and tinkering with genetics will just make us sicker and weaker in the long run.
Graeme, UK

We have two sons and would love a third child. But both our boys are autistic and we have been told that the disorder is more genetically inclined towards males. So, although we would love to add to our family we cannot risk having another boy. To be able to choose to have a girl would be wonderful. But to choose one way or the other just out of personal choice? No.
Jo, UK

Traditional breeding methods will continue without the aid of science
Logically in any society this gender selection would be the choice of a small minority. Traditional breeding methods will continue without the aid of science. We should trust the judgement of the doctors who would be assisting that the reasons behind the selection were ethical. It is fundamentally wrong to assume cultures would demand based on the supposed "value of male offspring". Do these cultures have a scan, determine the sex and abort unwanted foetuses? Of course they don't - most people have a strong sense of moral and ethical objectivity. Lets afford them the respect as rational human beings and allow the minority to choose if they so wish.

I think you should be able to choose. I have two girls, who I adore of course. But if I had another baby, I would like to have a little boy. Embryos are selected in IVF, so why can't every family have a chance to select their baby's sex. Also, if some cultures prize men above women (Claire Herbert's comment, below), wouldn't it be better if the baby's sex were selected before it is born? This would prevent babies abandoned or unloved after they are born.
Louise, UK

I am currently pregnant at the moment and I personally think that choosing the gender of your child is wrong. My partner and I currently have 2 boys and if I had a girl it would be nice, but either way nature will give me a child and that's what matters - to me life is more important than gender.
Amanda, England

I think, in time, choosing the sex of your child will be commonplace and accepted. Any medical or scientific advance has the capacity to be abused. Should we bin scientific and medical research? Of course not. Used responsibly, gender selection is a valuable tool to prevent sex linked chromosomal disorders. Its not a case of it being against God's will (irrelevant to agnostics and atheists) or immoral (views on morality differ).
Paul Beckett, UK

Genetic engineering should be there only to cure debilitating illnesses
Dan, United Kingdom
This continuous abuse of genetic engineering will only result in more regulation being heaped upon those scientists trying to produce treatment that will reduce life threatening diseases. Those who are opposed to it even on medical grounds will want to see it completely banned if selfish parents are using it to select the sex of their child. Genetic engineering should be there only to cure debilitating illnesses.
Dan, United Kingdom

This is morally indefensible. Religion aside, nature is self-balancing and man has always suffered when he defies nature's will. As for the haemophiliac argument, all humans can carry the gene - if you allowed a couple to choose to have a daughter on this basis, the daughter would still carry the gene and any daughters of hers - do you propose that this family will forever meddle with nature?
Tim Booth, UK

I am sorry to say that we will soon get sex selection and in further down the line designer babies too. The will of the majority in 2003 is virtually irrelevant, at most it will delay things. The reason - plain simple supply and demand. Children of rich parents will get the ultimate inheritance of intelligence, physique etc. God help the rest.
Ralph, UK

Pointing the finger at the technology misses the point entirely
Clare Kelly, UK
Many people who have written in have spoken of the dangerous imbalances that sex selection could create. Do they not think that the issue here is not the technology, but the culture itself where this could arise? We should be highly critical of any society which values one sex above another. Pointing the finger at the technology misses the point entirely. Is it really such a problem in a society like that of Britain, where on the whole men and women are increasingly able to lead equal lives, that a family with four boys decides they would like to have a girl? I fail to see the vast ethical problems this poses.
Clare Kelly, UK

My brother and my youngest nephew are both haemophiliac, so frankly I'm pretty sickened by the idea of letting parents select gender to avoid having a haemophiliac child! As for "family balancing" or just plain wanting a little girl to dress up in pink frocks - it's wrong. How are children who are selected like this going to feel if they ever find out that their parents' love was conditional on them meeting certain standards? I'm sick of the attitude of people who think they have an absolute right to whatever they want, just because it's been made possible.
Cait, UK

Since the technology exists, I can't see how anyone can stop it happening. If there is going to be gender selection, should there not also be some kind of restrictions or guidelines for its use for the sake of world population figures? For example, a family that already has a child of a particular sex, should not be eligible for this simply for the sake of having another male.
Kendra, UK

Why lose the excitement in the cause of selfishness? Some people see babies as possessions just like video recorders. They want to pick and choose the brand and model. I'm an expectant Dad, and I don't even want to know the gender until the baby arrives.
Chris, UK

So Jamie Samat thinks it is Ok for parents to choose the sex of their baby. What about families from cultures that prize men above women? That will create an imbalance that will have lasting effects. Parents should not be allowed to choose the sex.
Claire Herbert, London

There is a reason why nature has the last say. It is a great leveller
Mary Chamberlain, England
Only on medical grounds. Can you imagine what would happen to the population one generation on if children were chosen by sex. Male children would predominate, especially where culturally males are the preferred children. There is a reason why nature has the last say. It is a great leveller.
Mary Chamberlain, England

I don't think we should be able to choose the sex of our children. I am the mom of four beautiful daughters and would not swap them for the world. When I was expecting my last daughter I was asked by everyone "Do you want a boy?" I would always reply "no I want a baby". I also wonder if we were allowed to choose the sex what next the colour of the hair or eyes.
Jacqui, England

Why does the human race feel it has to change everything? It's a recipe for disaster, of which the affects will not be felt for generations to come.
Leave Nature Alone!
Vince, UK

I'm fed up with all this talk of it being 'God's will'. Presumably then if a baby suffers life threatening complications during or shortly after birth we shouldn't medically intervene. After all it may be 'God's will' that the baby should not live.
Paul, Wales, UK

If parents are able to select the sex for reasons such as balancing a family we are only one step away from 'designer' babies, which is a frightening prospect.
Hannah, UK

I'm currently six months pregnant with my first baby. I would love for this baby to be a little girl, though so far scans have been unable to determine the sex. I don't think this makes me a bad parent; it has just always been a dream of mine to have a daughter. While in my heart I know that if this little one is a boy I will love him just as much, I see nothing wrong with knowing that there could be a way to determine that sometime in my life I could have the daughter I have always dreamed of. I can't explain rationally my desire to have a female child, but it is very strong. I do agree, however, that determining the sex of the baby at pre-implantation stage could potentially open a whole can of worms re: other genetic selection procedures. We do have to be careful where we go with this, but the HFEA should really reconsider their decision if the reasons are for balancing the family.
Anna, UK

No, I do not think that parents should have the right to choose the sex of their baby unless they are trying to avoid sex linked hereditary diseases. The sex of a baby should be left to nature to decide; we already tamper too much with nature. This type of selection is purely indulgent and unnecessary. Let nature take its course.
Linda, England

As someone who suffers from 'unexplained infertility' the whole idea saddens me greatly. There are thousands of us who long for a child of either sex.
Philippa, UK

I have a two year old girl and am pregnant with her little brother or sister. I neither know nor care which it is. Having had complications with the first pregnancy, resulting in our daughter being born at just 2lb 8oz, I simply wish for this baby to be full term and healthy. People who are fortunate enough to have had children without complications should be very grateful for what they have.
Lisa T, UK

Life would be harsh beyond words if we refused to exert any dominance over nature
Simon Ward, England
Yes it should be allowed. Those who say that we ought not to interfere with nature, well man's very survival depends on him being able to interfere with nature, and bend it to his whim. What if people had decided not to interfere with nature when they built the first houses out wood? Or when they engineered crops that can withstand third world conditions? Life would be harsh beyond words if we refused to exert any dominance over nature.
Simon Ward, England

As a father myself I am not opposed to the idea that if you already have children of one gender you should perhaps be allowed to select the other for a next child. I fail to understand why people see the hand of God in what is essentially a random process with a few general biological factors, timing of ovulation and sex, body acidity etc.
James Scobbie, Scotland

What has happened to a parent's love being unconditional?
Gemma Hyde, UK

Choosing the sex of your child is like choosing your own birthday or Christmas present. The delight on unwrapping your gift is ruined by knowing the content.
Caroline, England

Haemophiliacs are always males and if the mother is known to carry the gene then she should be able to choose to have a girl
Nina, UK
I do not agree with choosing the sex of your baby or genetic modification except if it is for a serious medical reason. Haemophiliacs are always males and if the mother is known to carry the gene then she should be able to choose to have a girl. But if the decision is made because of personal preference, then no. Why should the NHS pay to help people choose this just because they want a girl rather than a boy? Also if you have a child it should not matter what you have and if it does then you should not have one. When it comes down to it, you have to love what ever you have. No, choosing the gender of your baby is out of the question.
Nina, UK

I don't have a problem with this at all, provided the parents are willing to pay for the medical treatment themselves. This is a preference, rather than a necessity, so I would violently disagree with the procedure being provided by the National Health Service, depriving someone else of much needed treatment.
Jac, UK

My daughter recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl. However, during her pregnancy had to have genetics tests to determine if a genetic disorder in her partners family would pass to her unborn child. Now as the disorder is sex linked, gender selection may be a consideration for them in the future family planning. I must say that while I agree with this level of gender selection on health grounds, I have my reservations for the wide spread availability to general gender selection. We may find that we are messing with the delicate balance of the planet's population, which may have greater implications further into the future.
Karen Fagg, England

Nature is the best moderator
Jan, Scotland
When sex-selection becomes possible, by any means, social problems abound. In China, where baby boys are preferred, it is estimated a million girl foetuses are aborted and tens of thousands of girl babies are abandoned every year (many of whom die). There are now over 20 million Chinese men who will never be able to marry because there aren't enough women. Who's to say the same imbalances will not happen if couples are allowed to choose the sex of their baby in any other country? Nature is the best moderator.
Jan, Scotland

I remember the words of a mother who would like to have a daughter after giving birth to three healthy sons. The reason she wants a girl is because a daughter would come around for tea! Isn't the most important thing to have healthy kids? Next thing we choose is the colour of the eyes, hair, skin and the IQ. I am absolutely against the whole thing and disgusted about the selfishness of certain people!!
Marc, UK

It is possible to choose the sex of a baby anyway, without the intervention of any doctors, by a well known and safe natural method, that worked perfectly for me. We have both a son and a daughter, exactly as planned.
Andrew, UK

If people are desperate for a child of a particular sex why not think about giving a child in local authority care a new life
Ian Bishop, UK
My wife and I have decided not to have a baby of our own at the moment. One of the main reasons is because of a risk of it having a congenital eye condition. We have fulfilled our need to be parents by having two girls join us with a view to us adopting them. They are 6 and 11 and have given us many challenges and lots and lots of great times. If people are desperate for a child of a particular sex why not think about giving a child in local authority care a new life either through adoption or fostering ? God has more than one way of satisfying your needs.
Ian Bishop, UK

No they shouldn't. We shouldn't be mucking about with all this sort of thing. What's wrong with Mother Nature taking it's course? I can't think of any medical reason why you should be able to choose.
Ian Watts, UK

It's typical of the world we live in today that people should expect to be able to have everything they want and are prepared to fly in the face of decent opinion to ensure they get it.
Kevin, Switzerland

For those who favour gender selection, please take a look at India where women regularly abort female foetuses. This has resulted in the rough 50:50 ration of male to female and is already beginning to cause social and economic problems. Life on earth is very complex and intertwined, and has evolved over billions of years. There is a reason for the way we are today. We should be very very careful to not upset this delicate balance. Just because a kid knows how to use a brush, does not mean that he is a Da Vinci.
sadi, USA

We're not standing in a sweet shop here
Steve Thurston, UK
As an expectant father I'm appalled that we are even having this debate. We're talking about the most natural thing in the world - people should be grateful of a healthy baby. What next - hair colour? Eye colour? We're not standing in a sweet shop here.
Steve Thurston, UK

I have two young sons and I am constantly getting asked if I am going to try for a third so that I can have a girl. Why? I ask myself, I am just grateful that I have children I don't care what gender they are as long as they are healthy. We know people out there who can't have children that would be happy with anything they could have. Why waste time and resources for a trivial thing as "what gender do we want this time"
Erin, England

I suggest that parents should be allowed to select the gender of their child. If the process was expensive, and the parents were determined to have a specific gender despite that, then allowing them to use the process is surely better than the risk of them having a child of the other gender and resenting it because it's not what they wanted. The question of gender balance is irrelevant in the developed Western world where the need to have a male heir is practically non-existent.
Brian Lycett, England

Why do we need balanced families? The fact is nature does a good enough job on its own without any help from us or least it has done for many thousands of years, has something changed now to make balance necessary? If it has I obviously missed it. The only reason for this is the selfishness of the parents, I can see no other advantage.
Russell, UK

I don't think people should be able to choose the sex of their baby. There is no 'perfect' outcome in this respect anyway. Having one child of each sex doesn't make a family any more complete than having several of one sex. In fact having two of the same sex is more likely to result in closeness between siblings which could be seen as being better for a 'perfect' family than squabbling offspring.
Victoria, UK

If a child is not conceived naturally I think its nature's way of curbing the population. I hate this idea of expecting to get everything we wish for. What about all those children who are in Children's Homes. Let's find a family for them and try to be a little more unselfish.
Julie , UK

You get the gender child you want, but don't get any grandchildren
Jeremy, England
No no no. We're so pleased with ourselves for finding new things we can do with the human body, we're not stopping to ask whether they should be done. Suppose one gender is more desirable, so the majority opt for it... You opt for a boy. Most everyone on your street opts for a boy. When he grows up he has real problems finding a wife, because the ratio isn't 50:50 any more. You get the gender child you want, but don't get any grandchildren. Marvellous.
Jeremy, England

Oh come on! It's not like we are shifting the world's demographics here. We are talking about a few fairly well off people in the west who have a lots of sons and would like a daughter or vice versa. If it is being done already outside the UK, maybe the ethical discussion should be why is it not available to everyone regardless of financial status.
Milly, UK

Children do not belong to their parents or to anyone else. No one should have the power to choose the sex of a child or of any other genetic attribute of a child unless for good, well defined and generally agreed medical reasons.
David Wright, Wales

Parents should not be able to choose the sex of their baby. I consider this interference in God's will.
Mayada Wahsh, Egypt

I think the HFEA has made a perfectly reasonable decision, otherwise it brings to mind, as an ex-philosophy student, the principles of eugenics. It also takes away the fact that every human is a unique creation that can never be replaced.
Robert Carmichael, UK

Anyone lucky enough to have children of their own should be grateful. Specific selection of any characteristics is selfish on behalf of the parents.
Lou, UK

There's no reason why parents shouldn't be allowed to choose the sex of their child
Jamie Samat, UK
There's no reason why parents shouldn't be allowed to choose the sex of their child. Notice the word 'their'. It's not up to anyone else to make the ethical decision about gender. If people spent less time worrying about what others are doing we might solve some of the more important issues in the world today.
Jamie Samat, UK

Parents should not be allowed to determine the sex of their child. A parent that only desires a certain sex is not fit to be a parent at all. A parent that is only accepting of certain traits is clearly a danger to its child. Furthermore, as soon as society begins to allow genetic selection in the area of the baby's sex, it is not far from adopting other forms of genetic selection, until ultimately, society begins to build up generations of so-called genetically perfect individuals. Has no one seen Gattica? The dangers associated with genetic selection are numerous and are not far from the kind of elitism associated with Hitler's ideal Aryan race. We should be working towards promoting social acceptance, not specialization and elitism.
Lindsey, Canada

100% No. While we all have our preferences usually for selfish reasons, I for one believe the most anyone should hope for is a healthy baby regardless of gender at the end of the day that is all that matters.
Stephen Logan, UK

Yes. This is one instance where science can have a positive influence for the good of all concerned. Why be a slave to biology when a simple selection process can come to the rescue? This is surely a win-win situation.
Graham, Isle of Man

Why not allow selection on this basis only?
Ben Turner, UK
The commonly given reason for gender selection is to have a gender-balanced family. Why not allow selection on this basis only? It would hardly be difficult to legislate or check. There's no real reason this would lead to the "slippery slope" feared by most opponents.
Ben Turner, UK

The idea of designing one's baby, even choosing its sex is completely wrong. It is a dangerous and unethical thing to play with nature or God. However, if it is clear the child will develop an illness or disease then treatment is needed.
Jack Higgs, UK

I share the ethical concerns of many but one scenario could be justifiable: what if parents could elect to have a child of each sex? They would take their chances on the first and then the second would automatically be of the opposite sex. This would satisfy the desire of many to have a "balanced" family, while offering significant protection from social pressures that could lead to a disproportionate number of children of one sex being selected. However, any sane person must realise that the sex of your children really shouldn't be the most important thing in your life.
Andrew, UK

Never - it's immoral.
Wendy Hodgkins, US

Nature provides for random selection which over time assures that roughly 50% of people at any time are male or female. Choice in this matter will create anti-selection, which may upset the balance over time. This was apparent in China during the "one child" era, resulting in an overabundance of boys. As well, the "culling" of embryos based on sex, if that is what is contemplated, is morally repugnant.
John Doyle, Canada

No. Unless for strictly medical reasons featuring life and death I don't think science should interfere at all. Just because we can do things, doesn't mean we should. Where will we draw the line... genetic tests for obesity or red hair or poor eye sight, then not selecting those embryos in case they child is one day bullied? Too much choice makes for a very self-centred and perfection-obsessed society.
Mitchy, Scotland

Just one of so many little chips away at the sanctity of life
Liz, Canada
No I do not think parents should be allowed to choose the gender of their baby. I remember the disbelief and condemnation when the first hint of this being possible became public. Now it is possible (although still not lawful), and I expect given a few more years it will be lawful, and even acceptable. Such an important question and just one of so many little chips away at the sanctity (I want to use 'sanctity' without a religious overtone) of life. I am saddened.
Liz, Canada

Nope, be grateful you can have ANY sex of child.
Steve H, UK

We should use genetic engineering only to prevent known hereditary illnesses etc. Not to alter the otherwise normal course of nature. "Be it a boy or a girl, as long as the child is healthy", should be the attitude every parent should have.
Roger, UK

I think this decision is right, as this has the potential to open a whole can of worms. Gender today, tomorrow hair colour, IQ - who knows? All babies have the right to be born, "perfect" or not.
David Colinson, USA

I don't think that parents should be allowed to choose the sex of their child. People should be happy with just having a baby. There are millions of people in the world who are unable to have children and those that can should count their blessings. I don't believe in tampering with nature, unless it is to help medically and should only be allowed in extreme cases.
Christina Banfield, Singapore

The sex of the child is something that God ordains, and He knows best. If parents were allowed to select the gender of their child then we will see an imbalance. What if most people wanted a boy? (or vice versa). Will we also need to pass laws to control gender ratios?
Fatima, Canada

Choosing the gender of your child is abhorrent
avid Turner, Indonesia / UK
The fact that technically things can be achieved, does not mean that they should be implemented. Choosing the gender of your child is abhorrent. In this life there are some things that are not meant to be interfered with.
David Turner, Indonesia / UK

Man will at first play God...then man will think he is God. I thought World War Two put the idea of a master race to sleep.
C. Firth, Canada

Why should uncivilised and uneducated parents that think one sex is 'better' than the other be given the power to satisfy their pathetic desires? Surely it required both sexes, in equal proportion, to create that very child?
Norm , UK

Choosing gender without medical reason is wrong. Such births in families with previous children may cause these older siblings to feel less wanted. We have dreams on how we expect our families to form, but we also love any child regardless of gender, or disability.
Lawrence Tyler, UK

We have two boys and are waiting with interest to discover what number three will be. We would not have tried to 'choose', given the chance, but I see no reason to deny others the opportunity.
Sean, USA

Interfering with a natural process because of the arrogant wishes of parents should not be condoned
Bill, Canada
Interfering with a natural process because of the arrogant wishes of parents should not be condoned. Where is the natural balance? When man interferes with nature there has always been hell to pay! As a society we have been going in the wrong directions for years, it is time to at least minimally reverse the trend not further add to it. The consequences should be thoroughly thought out and see what has happened in other countries that now have a surfeit of men because parents were allowed to choose. The usual way in which societies with excess men deal with the problem is by culling through unnecessary warfare.
Bill, Canada

Jackie, UK/USA

Parenting is all or nothing, and you have to take the good with the bad. There should be no room for consumerism, supermarket-like picking and choosing in child making. In the end, anyway, your children always turn up to be their own person, not what you want them to be.
Maria Clara Martin, Colombia, normally UK

I agree with the decision made. I still have doubts about any genetic engineering, regardless of whether or not it will prevent illness, because it just might be the first step towards total genetic engineering. That, I believe, will inevitably fall into the wrong hands to be misused at their whim.
Lis, Nigeria/USA

No, because all couples would want good looking females!
James Gould, UK

The idea of genetic selection for anything other than untreatable, severely debilitating conditions is plain wrong. Allowing any form of neutral selection, such as sex, would set a precedent and add weight to the arguments of those who would favour selection for "positive" characteristics, such as height, intelligence or appearance.
Joseph McClay, Northern Ireland (currently USA)

Any child is blessing what ever the gender
Neil Millen , UK
Parents should not be able to pick and choose the gender of their children unless for sound medical reasons. Any parent that bemoans the fact that they would rather have one sex or the other to 'complete' their family, should count themselves lucky that they have any children at all. Society needs to remember that some people can't have children and that any child is blessing what ever the gender.
Neil Millen , UK

If parents are allowed to pick the sex of their babies then soon we would have what we call a "superior" race of perfect people. Why are we even thinking this?
Prince Sintim, USA

Why not? The decision to have children is usually for entirely selfish and shallow reasons anyway.
Jane Cooper, Australia

Tampering with nature in this way is only going to lead to problems down the line. Think of all the cultures that value a man's life over a woman's. If this choice was available anywhere there would undoubtedly be dire long term consequences and an imbalance in the population.
Ellie, UK

Personally I would not support sex selection; part of the thrill is not knowing the sex of the baby! But I would not have a strong feeling against those who do want to select the sex of their child. The only protest I would make is that, if a couple have such a strong preference for having a boy or for a girl, then why don't they adopt one? It would be cheaper for them than costly cosmetic procedures, and also give a home to a needy child who has already been brought into the world.
Daniel, UK

I feel it is wrong to mess around with nature. What is wrong with having a proper pregnancy and learning about the sex of the baby during the pregnancy? Does it really matter if the baby is a girl or boy?
Joanne Edwards, Brighton, UK

No, I do not think that parents should be allowed to select the sex of their child. There is too much interference with nature as it is.
June, New Zealand

Should you be able to choose the gender of your baby?
4251 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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