Thursday, July 03, 2008

Who Gets Born?

aThe Bioethics Council of New Zealand has given its government a lot to think about.

The council issued a report in mid-June recommending that parents be given the right to choose the sex of their babies in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). New legislation would replace a 2004 law that bans gender selection except as part of treatment for rare genetic diseases.

The report, appropriately titled “Who Gets Born?,” issues a series of recommendations to the government on pre-birth testing and the challenging developments in PGD. With the hope of producing “better, longer-lasting, and wiser policy decisions,” the council used public deliberation to frame ethical issues before making its recommendations.

In its summary, the council concluded that there are “insufficient cultural, ethical, and spiritual reasons to prohibit the use of PGD for sex selection for social reasons such as family balancing.”

Critics of the recommendation include the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre, which issued an immediate response to the council’s report. Taking the position of all embryos being created equal, the Catholic Bioethics Centre asks: “What stops parents from using the technology for nothing more than parental desires? [We believe] in welcoming the children we are given rather than ordering them according to specifications.”

The gender selection debate might be a fresh topic in New Zealand, but it’s nothing new in the United States. In contrast to New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, there is no ban on sex selection in America. In fact, some foreign couples—those who can afford it, anyway—avoid national bans on sex selection by traveling to the U.S. for medical procedures.

As with other medical advancements, gender selection doesn’t float through the public consciousness without sparking a healthy dose of ethical debate. Is sex selection a dangerous path that leads to discrimination against “non-selected” individuals? Are parents using the technology to fulfill their own desires as opposed to respecting life? Or is sex selection an important individual right not to be regulated by government?

This summer, it’s up to the New Zealand government to decide.

1 comment:

Alanna said...

I think this is one of these issues which will happen to us no matter what we think or say abotu it. More adn more people want this kind of control over embryos and I can;t think of any way to stop that.