SHOULD WE BE ABLE TO CHOOSE THE SEX OF OUR UNBORN CHILDREN?
chosen embryos are then returned to the womb. Two weeks later, the woman does a fertility test to see whether the treatment has been successful. If the woman becomes pregnant, there is a 99.9 per cent chance she will have a child of the desired gender.
The treatment is not cheap. In the US it costs from $17,000, and in Thailand it starts at $10,000, not including the price of flights, accommodation and fertility drugs.
Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, who runs the Fertility Institutes in the US, has treated more than 100 Australian couples. One woman returned seven times until she became pregnant.
Dr Steinberg says: “There is a tremendous drive that we see in some couples to balance their family.”
Cassandra Italia, director of Global Health Travel, which specialises in facilitating surgical procedures in Asia, says 10 Australian couples a month currently travel to Malaysia or Thailand with her company for gender selection, and two a day call to find out how to do it.
Earlier this year, a Melbourne couple were so desperate for a girl they aborted twin boys as they already had three sons. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal denied them the right to undergo PGD and they are now considering treatment in the US.
Professor Gab Kovacs, from Monash IVF in Victoria, thinks the current gender-selection guidelines should be changed.
He says: “The question we need to ask is why should it be illegal? I don’t think it should be encouraged, but I can’t see a reason why it should be prohibited. I can’t see why it should be illegal if you can afford to pay for it.
“A nationwide poll we have just done on gender selection shows that only 20 per cent of people support it. But it is because people don’t really understand it.” *