Ban on IVF sex selection remains

Public debate needed on gender selection IVF  (CNS/EPA)

Australia's peak medical council has knocked back a push to allow parents to choose the gender of their baby in new national guidelines, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

But the National Health and Medical Research Council left the door open for future changes.

Yesterday, the NHMRC banned clinics from offering gender selection for non-medical purposes in its long-anticipated guidelines for assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

The council's working committee – the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) – had recommended the council consider condoning sex selection in certain circumstances.

But the NHMRC ultimately concluded the Australian public was not yet ready for such a radical change.

"Despite AHEC's majority view that there may be some circumstances where there is no ethical barrier to the use of sex-selection for non-medical purposes (current regulations apply) until such time that wider public debate occurs and/or state and territory legislation addresses the practice," the report read.

ART facilities, including IVF clinics, must abide by the guidelines in order to retain their accreditation.

Several IVF clinics made submissions arguing for families that already have at least two children of the same sex to be able to choose the gender of the third. Currently, gender selection is only allowed in Australia on medical grounds to reduce the risk of serious genetic conditions.

There was "extensive debate" within the working committee and in the media concerning whether would-be parents should be permitted to make an autonomous decision about the sex of their baby for non-medical purposes, chair of the AHEC Ian Olver said.

"However there has also been significant community concerns about this practice," he said.

AHEC did not wish to endorse or perpetuate gender stereotyping or cultural bias based on sex, Professor Olver said.

More than 200 submissions during the consultation period raised issues concerning ART, including counselling for would-be parents, commercial surrogacy and international surrogacy, genetic testing, and sex selection for non-medical purposes.

FULL STORY

National guidelines oppose push to allow parents to choose sex of IVF babies (Sydney Morning Herald)

RELATED COVERAGE

Regulatory ban on sex selection remains (The Australian)

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