The controversial process of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis can be used to discover anything from the genetic diseases an embryo is at risk from, to the gender of the child. Currently in the UK, it is illegal to use this process on anything other than checking for certain genetic diseases, and cannot be used for 'sex selection'.
The US however have allowed the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for sex selection since 2001. The process itself usually costs around £20,000 each time, and British couples are increasingly looking to travel abroad to ensure they have the baby girl or boy that they wish for.
One Manhattan clinic in particular has seen a sharp increase in the number of British couples requesting the process
Jeffrey Steinberg opened his clinic in January of this year, and claims that "half the embryos undergoing tests in his laboratory belong to British parents. Four more couples are already booked in for next month"
Steinberg goes on to comment on the UK's stance on sex selection: "Britain is far more conservative than it used to be. They were the innovators but now they've got handcuffs on. From a business standpoint, it's the best thing going. From a medical standpoint, it's a travesty."
The opposition of sex selection in the UK is down to a variety of social and moral factors, including the public outrage at the idea. It would appear that USA citizens are not sure of the procedure either, with a study in the USA suggesting that only 8% of Americans would choose this procedure. Reasons against it include an increase in gender stereotyping, and the step closer to the trend of 'Designer babies' Whilst there currently appears to be a 50/50 selection of each sex, there is also a fear that this could change the natural sex ratio.
Would you consider choosing the sex of your child? What do you think about the UK's stance on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for sex selection?