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Consultation to look at sex selection and other issues

19 January 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 241

The Science and Technology Committee (STC) of the UK's House of Commons is launching an online consultation into human reproductive technologies and the law. The consultation will be launched at a joint STC and British Academy debate on sex selection - just one of the issues to be covered in the consultation - taking place on Thursday 22 January 2004. The debate and e-consultation will be the first stage of a major inquiry by the Committee into human reproductive technologies.

Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of choosing a child's sex, to balance a family for example. But the debate will ask whether this is a good reason for the state to interfere with the reproductive freedom of individuals. It will also ask whether sex selection potentially creates dangers to the children themselves and/or society as a whole.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently published a report recommending that sex selection should be allowed only to avoid serious disease. But the STC will ask what is considered to be a serious disease and whether it is now the time to draw the line before demand grows for so-called designer babies. It will also ask whether a ban on social sex selection is workable if patients from the UK can simply travel to countries where the treatment is available.

Details of the sex selection debate can be found in the 'recommends' section of BioNews. At the end of the event, the e-consultation, featuring sex selection and many other issues, will go online. The Hansard Society will act as independent moderators for the online forum.

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