Couple seek fair hearing for right to add female dimension to family life

A couple planning to use the newly enshrined Human Rights Act to choose the sex of their baby said yesterday that they were not simply trying to replace their deceased daughter but were seeking to restore the "female dimension" of the family.

A couple planning to use the newly enshrined Human Rights Act to choose the sex of their baby said yesterday that they were not simply trying to replace their deceased daughter but were seeking to restore the "female dimension" of the family.

Alan and Louise Masterton, both 42, want to use the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into British law on Monday, to gain permission for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and pre-gender diagnosis (PGD) treatment to help them produce another girl. Their daughter, Nicole, died in July 1999 aged three, from severe injuries after a bonfire accident at the family home.

The couple, from Monifieth, near Dundee, already have four sons.

The general policy of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which refused their request in January, is to ban choosing the sex of a baby unless there is a pressing medical reason.

But Mr Masterton said his case had not been given a fair hearing. That, they plan to argue, is in breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act that guarantees a fair hearing from public authorities, and also Article 8, which enshrines the individual's right to respect for their private and family life.

"The next leap is babies to order, designer babies, is the usual war-cry we get," Mr Masterton said. "We want to use technology to give us a chance to help give us another daughter.

"We have psychologists' reports and doctors' reports, which say that the psychology for a daughter in our family existed long before Nicole was born."

Mrs Masterton said they had been trying for a girl for 15 years before Nicole was born, and that she had been sterilised after her daughter's birth.

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