The National Health and Medical Research Council is considering lifting a ban on gender selection, as a growing number of Australians flock to the US to choose the sex of their baby via IVF.
Couples desperate to have a baby boy or girl have been forced to undergo IVF overseas, since the controversial practice of gender selection was banned in Australia in 2005.
However the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is now considering changing the guidelines, which outlaw the practice here.
California-based IVF specialist Dr Daniel Potter says it is time gender selection was allowed to take place in Australia.
“The technology is safe, it is there, so why not allow people to use it,” he told News Corp.
Dr Potter, who operates the largest fertility clinic on the west coast of the US, says the numbers of Australians travelling to his practice to undergo gender selection has doubled since 2011.
He now sees about 20 Australian couples week, most of which are desperate to have a baby girl after having multiple sons.
However some believe the ban should remain in place, as the practice is an expression of sexism and could lead to the creation of designer babies.
Tereza Hendl, a health science researcher from the University of Sydney told News Corp that the practice reinforced a binary view of children.
The researcher says she is concerned children conceived through gender selection grow up feeling pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.
Meanwhile IVF Australia’s medical director Peter Illingworth supports the guidelines being changed, and does not think there would be a flood of couples using gender selection.
“I think the demand for this is very small, there are not a lot of couples for which this is a big issue, people are primarily concerned about having a healthy child,” he said.
He also believes the demand for boys and girls is evenly balanced in Australia and rejectes arguments that the practice could lead the creation of designer babies, where embryos are picked for their prospective intelligence and looks.