Parenting, What's On Our Mind

Should parents using IVF be able to choose the gender of their child?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
July 26th, 2016

We have science to thank for so many incredible feats in the world of fertility. If it weren’t for amazing advancements such as IVF, many couples who long to be parents may never see that dream come to fruition.  But where do we draw the line between creating life and designing it? Australian fertility clinics have recently called for new IVF laws that would give parents undergoing IVF treatment the option of choosing the gender of their child provided it is not their first.

Gender selection, although highly controversial and currently illegal in Australia, seems to have a place in the medical world.  When the sex of a child determines their predisposition, or likelihood, of carrying a serious medical condition, gender selection provides an option for parents to explore from the get-go, which is potentially life-saving for some babies. But what happens when it just comes down to personal preference?

According to Professor Ian Olver, the head of The National Health and Medical Research Council, parents have been travelling to the United States and Asia to undergo IVF to give them the opportunity to choose their baby’s sex. “Some of them may be putting themselves in a less than ideal medical situation to achieve their goal, so that has to be taken into consideration,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

The ability to choose the sex of your child for non-medical reasons feels to me like not only a completely strange decision, but a dangerous one.  How did we get to a place where even our children need to be designed to fit in with our own personal preferences? How much control do we really need?

gender selection

Equally delicious.

I think hoping to have a child of a specific sex is totally normal. I think many couples go into pregnancy with an idea of what their “ideal” would be – like saying “we want three kids,” or a hope to have “two girls and a boy,” seems pretty common. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that you’d like to have a daughter, or a son, one day – I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with feeling a little disappointed if you find out the sex of the child you’re expecting is not the sex you were hoping for. I’d guess that in most cases, that feeling flies out the window 0.3 seconds after you first lay eyes on your gorgeous little miracle.

As a mother of two kids – a girl and a boy, I was amazed at how many people were thrilled for us when we had our second child and he was a boy. “Perfect. Now you have one of each,” or “no need to have any more now, your family is done,” were comments that were thrown my way often. To be honest, I do feel lucky to have one of each; I feel lucky to have the experience of that special relationship with my daughter as I do with my own mum. I feel lucky that I know the deliciousness of having a highly affectionate and rambunctious son.

Having a child of each sex is not a perfect family. I have an older sister and a younger brother and as siblings, the three of us are probably as close as you can get. While my connection to my brother is just as strong as that with my sister, the relationship is different. I often feel guilty that my children won’t know the magic that comes from a relationship with a sibling of the same sex. The friendship and love shared between two sisters is something I sometimes feel sad that my daughter won’t have. Same goes for the bond between brothers, although I’m speculating on this, because I don’t have a penis. But you know what? If that’s my only concern, then I’m pretty bloody lucky.

I feel lucky to have the opportunity to raise two humans who will (hopefully) be strong, kind and self-assured adults. Above all, I feel lucky to have two healthy and happy children to call my own.

Whether your children are a mix of genders, or consist exclusively of penises or vaginas, the love is the same and the joy you experience is the same.  Irrespective of the sex of that child, if you love them, they will love you right back and THAT, friends, is the magic of parenthood.

What are your thoughts on gender selection?