The story of an Australian couple who aborted twin boys because they want to use IVF to ensure they have a daughter is attracting a lot of attention, especially among pro-lifers, and understandably so since the case seems to foreshadow an ethics-free future of eugenics.
But the couple, who want a girl to replace the infant daughter they recently lost, is so far still barred by Australian law from pursuing their quest for a female baby. The state of Victoria, where the unnamed couple lives, does not allow sex selection using IVF unless it is done to avoid the risk of the baby's inheriting a genetic abnormality or disease.
An independent group, known as the Patient Review Panel, recently rejected the couple's bid, so they are taking their case to the next level, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which is to hear their arguments in March.
"After what we have been through we are due for a bit of luck. We want to be given the opportunity to have a girl," said the man. The couple already have three sons.
According to the Herald-Sun newspaper
of Melbourne, which interviewed the couple, the woman, who is in her thirties, is "consumed by grief over the daughter who died soon after birth" and admits she has "become obsessed with having a daughter and it has become vital to her psychological health."
The husband told the newspaper that it was the couple's "right" to try this route. "It's ridiculous that sex selection is illegal, actually. For certain circumstances it should be legalized."
An Australian pioneer in IVF, Gab Kovacs, agreed. "I can't see how it could possibly harm anyone," he said.
"Laws should be made to protect people from things that are going to damage them. Why should we make this illegal? Who is this going to harm if this couple have their desire fulfilled?"
The couple told the Herald-Sun that if they lose their appeal they will go to the United States to conceive a girl. Unlike Australia and much of Europe, the U.S. does not regulate sex selection
in embryos developed for IVF procedures, so couples from many countries come here to conceive.
If the couple does come to the United States, they could expect to generate as much notice as they have in Australia, even if what they want is not illegal.
When a prominent fertility clinic in California announced in 2009 that it would help prospective parents choose physical traits -- hair and eye color, for example -- as well as the gender of their child, it prompted so much outrage that the clinic was forced to put its plans on hold
Sex-selective abortions also take place in some places in the United States, though the vast majority of Americans reject the practice as unethical
, and because the procedure is often used to destroy female fetuses and preserves males.
That the Australia couple targeted their fetuses because they were boys certainly hasn't mollified American pro-life activists.
"[I]n a world where the IVF and sex-selection are technologically possible, the providence of God is not trusted, and laws pertaining to bioethics come to be based on what's possible rather than what's right, such battles are inevitable," Tom Crowe wrote
at the web site of the conservative political lobby, CatholicVote.org.