Boy or girl? Doctor says parents should have a choice
A LEADING Sunshine Coast IVF specialist believes parents should have the right to choose the sex of their baby in a science lab.
And Dr Paul Stokes, from Coastal IVF in Maroochydore, says it is only a matter of time before "social sex-selection" is reintroduced in Australia.
This procedure, which was legal before 2004, allowed scientists to determine the sex of an embryo three days after conception when the "embryo is 100 times smaller than a full stop".
Dr Stokes said many couples were going overseas for the procedure because it was no longer available in Australia.
"Some families would really like to have a baby of a certain sex," he said.
Before it was made illegal, he helped a family who already had four boys have a little girl.
"The evidence is now that (making it illegal in Australia) hasn't stopped people from doing it," he said.
"All it means is that it can't happen in our country."
At the moment the science can be used only for "sex-linked" inherited defects.
Two healthy babies were delivered in July at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital after having undergone this advanced genetic testing three days after fertilisation.
Both of these babies' parents carried rare, different genetic defects and the testing was to ensure the children would not carry the gene.
Dr Stokes said he had just returned from a conference in Sydney which looked at the number of people wanting boys and the number wanting girls.
"It came out 52, 48, with 52 for girls," he said.
"The idea people would use it would create preponderance of one sex over the other isn't correct.
"I don't think we should have regulations like that. People should make those decisions for themselves."
Dr Stokes said the science was advanced enough that it soon would be possible to determine the colour of a person's hair while still an embryo.
But he said this kind of science would "never" be allowed in Australia.
"The idea you can create a baby in a particular image perhaps might be scientifically feasible, but it would never be allowed," he said.
"Overseas perhaps, but we have such strict guidelines, I could never envisage a situation where we would use the science for other than what is appropriate."