On 9 May 2005, the Israeli Ministry of Health issued guidelines spelling out the conditions under which sex selection by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for social purposes is to be permitted in Israel. This article first reviews the available medical methods for sex selection, the preference for children of a specific gender in various societies and the ethical controversies surrounding PGD for medical and social purposes in different countries. It focuses then on the question of whether procreative liberty or parental responsibility should be the centre of attention in this context. Finally, the article critically examines the new Israeli guidelines and their implications for the women undergoing the necessary medical treatments, for the children born as a result, for other members of the family and for society in general.
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Competing interests: None.
↵i “Sex” here refers to the genetic/biological characteristics differentiating male and female, whereas “gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.