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Why we must let nature take its course.

Byline: By Angharad Mair

Imagine the future. The Beckhams return to England.

Having given birth to three boys, Victoria is desperate for a little girl. So, since she qualifies for family balancing, she books into the nearest private IVF clinic to be implanted with female embryos only.

If the new controversial plans by certain MPs are given the go-ahead they, and similar families, could well be the first on the immoral slippery slope where parents are allowed to choose the sex of their child.

Family balancing is the new catchphrase for the 21st Century, where the selfish belief that if you want something you should be allowed to have it is overriding any kind of commonsense, and could lead us into a dark future.

We all know that in rural areas of China and India the low cultural value placed on females leads to infanticide.

A study a few years ago of women having amniocentesis in India found that 90 per cent were carried out to determine the gender of the child, and that 96 per cent testing positive for a girl resulted in abortion.

Beijing has changed its laws to forbid sex selection abortions because of a massive imbalance in the birth of boys vs girls. But that imbalance could be coming here soon.

Recently, Alan and Louise Masterton from Monifieth near Dundee requested gender selection to guarantee that their next child would be a girl.

They claimed that they had a human right to a baby girl and that gender selection, as an exception, should be allowed for them.

Their story is desperately sad. With four sons they were delighted with a daughter Nicole after a wait of 15 years. She died before her fourth birthday as a result of serious burns, an unimaginably cruel blow. They argue that they have a need to re-balance their family.

I have a huge amount of sympathy for the Mastertons, but selecting embryos to fulfil a specifically designed role cannot be justified.

Of course it goes without saying that sex selection to relieve suffering or to ensure that certain diseases cannot be passed on to children is a completely different issue and, therefore, should be allowed.

And it is quite right that it is presently legal for a parent with a high risk of passing on a genetic illness, say one that only affects males for instance, should be allowed to choose a daughter.

The trouble is that society as a whole is not capable of handling gender selection without terrible consequences.

We might like to think that we would react differently from countries such as China and India. But how soon before choosing the sex of your child would be commonplace if these recommendations are made legal.

If this legislation on choosing the sex of a child purely as a 'human right' is passed, IVF clinics could spring up all over the country.

And, mark my words, it wouldn't be long before we would see sex selection for first-borns.

Statistics show that most men would prefer their first-born to be a boy, a machismo badge of honour, someone to carry on the family name, who'll be brave and strong and win a Grand Slam for Wales.

Nature's way of ensuring that there is gender balance in society would be lost.

And why stop at gender selection?

Why not start selecting future babies on the basis of predicted intelligence, athletic ability, musical talent, height or personality tendencies?

Gender selection as a balancing act for individual families is morally wrong, a selfish must-have attitude and outlook.

Even if scientific procedures make this possible, it must not be allowed to became law, a law that would open a Pandora's Box to a potentially frightening future.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 27, 2005
Words:622
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