Prospective parents in Australia are banned from selecting the sex of their babies unless there is a risk of transmitting a serious genetic condition to the offspring.
The debate on the use of sex selection technology by IVF clinics in Australia has returned to the spotlight after the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announced it would soon begin reviewing public submissions on its Assisted Reproductive Technology guidelines.
And the ban could soon be lifted if the NHMRC’s review identifies an overwhelming support for the practice.
Kate is the author of one of the submissions the NHMRC is reviewing. She spoke to SBS Radio:
How did you come to present a submission and get involved in this advocacy in favour of being able to choose the gender of your baby through IVF?
I’d always planned to have a large family – at least three or four kids – and it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have at least some boys and some girls. And after my firstborn was an emergency cesarean, our second came and he ended up being an emergency cesarean as well. So the doctors suggested since we had two that we only try for one more child after that as it would have to be a caesarean.
I started looking to see if there was actual ways that you could sway to see if our third would be able to be a daughter and that’s when I first found out about sex selection through IVF.
What do you say in your submission? What are your arguments?
It’s for family balancing purposes so I don’t see how it’s going to affect anyone. Its not harming anyone else and it’s about completing families.
With the argument about the ratio, it wouldn’t actually impact that in any way. It’s just about personal family choices; wanting to complete their families and their ideas about what they had for their families.
How do you feel about having a girl?
I always imagined having at least one girl and it’s not about wanting to dress her in pink or play with Barbies – in all honesty, I didn’t do any of that and I’d like it if she didn’t as well – I want that mother-daughter relationship. Everyone has a mother-son relationship and that’s something special but a mother-daughter relationship, as well as a father-daughter relationship…my husband would love to have a girl as well.
I grew up in a family of seven kids. There were six girls and one boy and my brother, the relationship that I had with him – the sister-brother relationship – it’s something that’s very special and it’s something I’d like my boys to experience as well with their sister.
Have you thought about how you’d feel if your child was transgender?
We’ve been asked those sorts of questions but really that kind of question could apply to any child. How would I handle it if one of my sons ended up telling me that they were transgender? I think the problem is that gender selection and sex selection, they often get confused and mixed together. Women, we want sex selection, we just want to be able to choose the embryo that is the sex that we want. Gender, it’s completely up to my future daughter. If she identifies as a female, great, if she identifies as a male, great. I’d still love and support them no matter what. They’re your child, that’s it.
It’s not about wanting a stereotype daughter or a stereotype boy, it’s about wanting that dynamic of having both sexes in your family.
People seem to get caught up in the trying to give more rights to the non-existent children. Before they’ve even become embryos people are already fighting for them saying, you shouldn’t be able to choose because what about that boy embryo?
For a family like us, we have our two boys already and if we ‘re willing to pay for this child obviously it’s a child that we would love and care for just as much as our other children and we I think that we have a right to be able to have the knowledge that when we have our embryos – when all the eggs have been implanted and they are males and females – I think the parents have a right to know what sex each of those embryos are before they are implanted.
Do you think this is different to the practice of sex selective abortions?
Yes, I do.
I personally would not be able to go through with a sex-selection abortion. I think that child does – although the law doesn’t see them as a child – they already exist as in they are already here, in this world, and to choose to abort that child because they are not the right sex, I don’t agree with that.
Choosing an embryo before it’s actually been implanted inside a mother is far less invasive on the mother and father; less heartache and investment from the family.
Listen to the full interview here: