Selecting a baby’s sex – Science project looks at the ramifications

selecting a baby's sex

A student from Nelson College for Girls has developed a project for the Cawthron Institute Scitec Expo that looks at the implications of selecting a baby’s sex.

This can be done using a technology called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which is used already for selecting healthy babies among parents who might pass on genetic diseases.

PGD cannot be used for gender selection in New Zealand.

“When I first started I thought, yeah, why not?” said Macy Cattell. “But as I looked further into it there are all sorts of consequences.”

She said the process was risky, which might be worth it when balanced against the risk of a genetic disorder, but not for a gender preference in otherwise healthy foetuses.

“I also felt like overall women might suffer [in places with gender preferences] … even in New Zealand, where we might think there’s gender equality.”

PGD can be used by people who have a chance of passing serious genetic disorders on to their children.

Ethics Committee approval is required to carry out PGD for any other reason (such as ‘saviour siblings’).

In New Zealand, the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act provides as follows:

No person may, for reproductive purposes –

  • select an in vitro human embryo for implantation into a human being on the basis of the sex of the embryo; or
  • perform any procedure, or provide, prescribe, or administer anything in order to ensure, or in order to increase the probability, that a human embryo will be of a particular sex.


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News category: New Zealand.

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