Recently Dr. Edgar Dahl, spokesman for the German Society for Reproductive Medicine wrote about the 10 most common objections to sex selection andwhy he feels they are far from conclusive. His article, published inReproductive BioMedicine Online, Vol. 14, Suppl. 1 2007 is in responseto the recommendation that the British Parliament ought to outlaw sex selectionexcept for the most serious medical reasons. The UK Department ofHealth concluded that social sex selection should be outlawed while sexselection for serious genetically sex linked diseases should be permitted.
Dahl lists these 10 reasons against sex selection which he refutes along the way:
- Sexselection is ‘playing God’ and since western democracies are built onthe separation of church and state, if sex selection is against onesreligious belief they can refrain from it.
- Sexselection is ‘playing mother earth’ and therefore it is ‘unnatural’however on the basis that something is natural or unnatural doesn’tmake it moral or immoral. Dahl gives the example of heart transplantsbeing ‘unnatural’ but not immoral.
- Sexselection is using medical procedures for non medical purposes butwe’ve crossed that boundary ages ago with plastic surgery being usedfor cosmetic purposes.
- Sex selectionwrongly allocates limited medical resources but since western societiesare run on private economies based on free and open markets, resourceallocation is not an issue.
- Sexselection distorts the natural sex ratio leading to imbalances as seenin India and China. Dahl maintains that since western societies do nothave marked preference for one sex over another we will not be at riskfor imbalances in sex ratios.
- Sex selection distorts the natural birth order leading to a society of first-born ‘son and heir’.
- AndSex selection creates a society of ‘little sisters’ since girls will bedesired after the first born son. Dahl combines his argument againstreasons 6 and 7 maintaining that ‘it is highly unlikely that hundredsof thousands of couples would employ sex selection technology for theirfirst child to be a boy’ and second born children do not feel secondbest so there will be no harm to our sons and daughters by orderingtheir birth.
- Sex selection is sexistbut Dahl states that parents do not view one sex as more valuable thananother but use sex selection out of a desire to have children fromeach sex.
- Sex selection negativelyimpacts the welfare of the child by imposing gender specific behavioron that child. Dahl insists, couples who use sex selection want a girl,not Angelina Jolie or they want a boy, not Brad Pitt.
- Sexselection leads down the slippery slope of designer babies. But sincethis is not an argument against sex selection per se, but of theconsequences of sex selection, Dahl feels optimistic we can managethese desires and ‘draw a legal line permitting some forms of selectionand prohibiting others.’
I found manyfaults with Dahl’s perspective on sex selection. Besides the fact thathis arguments distinctly ignore the welfare of the child, I was amazedin his confidence in our ability to control and legislate the desiresof parents to keep selecting more and different traits in our children.The fact that he suggests we could draw legal lines herebut not on social sex selection is rather naïve! May I suggest onereason against sex selection. It is an affront to the dignity of thechild, to be viewed as something which is made, manufactured or willedby others. A child created in the image of the parents shows that wehave lost our understanding that we are begotten and not made.
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