Doctors back right to choose sex of child: Ethics committee says gender selection is 'acceptable form of family planning'. Judy Jones reports on the BMA's recommendations
Monday 28 June 1993
The ethics committee of the British Medical Association has concluded that gender selection for medical or social reasons is a morally acceptable form of family planning.
Although at least one private clinic in London is already offering services to help couples choose whether they conceive a boy or a girl, the BMA said techniques were not yet scientifically validated. But Dr Fleur Fisher, head of the association's ethics and science division, said yesterday: 'Gender selection is on the horizon and we believe it should be made available provided there are adequate safeguards.'
Services should be restricted to couples in stable relationships who already have at least one child, Dr Fisher and her colleagues say. Moreover, gender selection should only be used before conception.
The issue is expected to generate heated debate tomorrow among the 600 doctors at the BMA annual conference in Torquay. The motion emphasises that no doctor should terminate a pregnancy on grounds of foetal gender alone, unless a sex-related disease is present.
A BMA working party on ethics, headed by Dr Fisher, is this week launching a book, Medical Ethics Today: its practice and philosophy, which acknowledges that gender selection is potentially a moral minefield.
'Some believe that gender selection should be approved on utilitarian grounds since it would make more families happy . . . Thus, allowing couples to choose would increase the number of happy children and diminish the abuse or neglect of unwanted children,' the authors state. 'But the ability to plan the sex composition of one's family may give rise to trivial or misleading attitudes.'
Selection techniques include sperm sorting and the timing of insemination. It is possible to select after the egg has been fertilised or the embryo has implanted in the womb, but the law does not permit abortion on grounds of foetal gender alone. Termination is permitted where the woman's mental or physical health would be impaired by continuation of pregnancy. 'In some cases the pressures brought to bear on a woman to produce a child of the desired gender may affect her health,' the BMA book points out.
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...