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I am deeply worried about your guest editorial,1 please allow me a few bullet points:
Trying to dispel some of the counterarguments to sex selection, your argument of prospective parents’ autonomy is void. If anyone has a right to determine his or her sex, it would be the person concerned, in this case the unborn child. Granted, hereditary sex related disease may force us to make tough choices; but surely the parents will not have surrogate decision making power in the absence of such a dire dichotomy. Would the child be able to sue the parents for making a bad choice?
The threat of neglect or abuse a girl might face, should her “deselection” not be permitted, amounts to hostage taking of the unborn life. The same applies also to the burden a family or society may put on a woman, by forcing her into multiple pregnancies, until she delivers the desperately wanted son! What is more, the fact that a law might be ignored or disregarded, has rarely been an accepted argument for its repeal.
In fact, should pro-male sex selection become widespread in an already sexist society, this would most likely be a prerogative for the affluent and resourceful, reinforcing the existing inequality. Say—for example, that predominantly male children would be born to privileged parents; the parents would then provide them with more opportunities, leaving the other sex to grow up in even more disadvantaged circumstances.
The slippery slope becomes most obvious, however, if we imagine racially discordant couples wanting to determine their offspring’s race and colour, be it based on (justified?) fears about societal abuse, neglect, and disadvantage, or their wish to “balance their families”, or even only as a matter of taste…
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