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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Warnings on sex selection hollow

6 July 2001

Warnings on sex-selection "hollow" Westminster, 6 July 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has decried warnings from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority about gender-selection. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "The HFEA's warnings about gender-selection and designer babies have a hollow ring to them. The authority already allows pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for disability. All such diagnosis is discriminatory because it results in the destruction of human life for one reason or another. "Even if young embryos aren't discarded because of their gender, they can still be discarded because of a suspected developmental anomaly. This sends a horrific message to disabled members of our supposedly caring society. "All forms of gender-selection--whether before or after fertilisation--take us further down the road to treating human life as a mere commodity to be bought, sold and thrown away at will. Children will increasingly be seen as lifestyle accessories. Gender-selection will probably lead to an imbalance between the sexes, as does abortion based on gender. "Less democratic regimes will be tempted to promote discriminatory techniques such as gender-selection for economic and political reasons. Parental freedom and discretion could actually be eroded and undermined. "Western society is obsessed with personal choice, yet some choices such as gender-selection carry social consequences for which we are ill-prepared. "Every quack remedy in history has had its devotees--people who claim it has made their lives wonderful. Test-tube baby techniques are no different. Most clients are left emotionally and financially exploited--and without the baby they want." [The HFEA website describes how four centres in the United Kingdom are licensed to carry out pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. A team in Virginia, USA, recently announced a technique for sorting sperm to determine likely gender after fertilisation. British couples have reportedly been to America for treatment which involves discarding embryos who are not of the desired gender.]

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