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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Is sex selection ethical?

The argument of this paper is that sex selection, except to avoid sex-linked disorders, is unethical. Two reasons are given: 1) Prima facie examination of any argument for sex selection cannot overcome the unfair and sexist basis of a choice to select the sex of a child. The desire to control the sex of a child is not rational, since any claim that is made for the parents' preference for one sex can be demonstrated to be provided also by the other sex. 2) On an examination of the consequences of sex selection, if it were practiced by parents in significant numbers, the harmful consequences would far outweigh the few fleeting beneficial consequences. The hypothesis that sex selection might reduce population in less developed or overpopulated nations cannot be demonstrated without violation of ethical principles of fairness and beneficence. The paper clarifies and, to an extent, revises a position taken earlier by the author on sex selection by amniocentesis. In an effort to argue that the motives of parents who desire to choose the sex of their child should not be singled out for harsh judgment in societies that allow abortion, the author's position about the ethics of sex selection itself was not directly stated. This paper attempts to strengthen the ethical content of the author's views and recommends a policy for physicians who receive requests from parents to assist them in sex selection.[1]


  1. Is sex selection ethical? Fletcher, J.C. Prog. Clin. Biol. Res. (1983) [Pubmed]
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