Early fetal gender test demands rapid ethical policymaking

r if the method involves terminating a pregnancy. This was the main conclusion of a review that drew together data from 21 separate studies. The research was carried out by Dr Sue Hall and colleagues working in the Department of Psychology at Guy's College London.

"Some of the studies show that while people may be in favour of the general principle of reproductive choice, they feel that they would not use sex selection themselves," says Hall.

The surveys cover a range of time from 1971 to 2005. Sixteen were carried out in the USA, 4 in Germany and 1 in the UK. Attitudes were particularly negative in Germany.

"People's attitudes become more negative when the methods used to select the gender of a child are explained eg the cost and effort involved, the unreliability of sperm sorting or the need for termination of pregnancy following prenatal diagnosis," says Hall. "People are particularly reluctant to endorse prenatal diagnosis and abortion for sex selection."

Earlier this month MP Caroline Flint declared that choosing the sex of a baby for social reasons would be banned and the Department of Health has been conducting a review of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act the legislation governing human fertilisation.

"Such debates need to consider the way that policy, guidelines and legal frameworks drawn up to work with Western attitudes and cultures will impact regions of the world that have more positive attitudes toward sex selection such as India and China," says Hall.

Review Title: Hall, S: Attitudes towards sex selection for non-medical reasons: a review, DOI: 10.1002/pd.1472


Contact: Polly Young
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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