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Israel allows 'social' sex selection

31 May 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 310

Israeli parents who have at least four children of the same sex may now be allowed to use PGD to conceive a child of the opposite sex. A new directive passed on 19 May will allow couples to apply for permission to select embryos according to their sex, but only in 'very unusual cases', according to a report in the British Medical Journal. Each request will be considered by a new seven-member committee, which will be comprised of experts in law, medical genetics and obstetrics, as well as a social worker and a clergyman.

Apart from one case officially approved by the country's Health Ministry, all PGD procedures carried out so far in Israel have been done to avoid passing on a serious genetic condition. The decision to allow PGD for social sex selection has attracted criticism, from both the media and politicians. The Commissioner for Future Generations, Shlomo Shoham, said that 'providing the option of choosing the sex of a fetus is sliding down a slippery slope', and 'another step on the road to severe moral deterioration'. He added that Israel must 'prohibit such a possibility by law'.

The Health Ministry has issued detailed regulations and guidelines for parents who wish to select the sex of their baby. Permission will only be given in cases where 'there is real and apparent danger of substantial harm to the mental health of the parents or parent, or of the child destined to be born, if the desired procedure is not performed'. Also, parents must have at least four children together of the same sex, except in 'extraordinary and extremely rare cases'. However, Shoham says that 'parents' mental health' is 'very undefined', and 'likely to be translated into those who don't have sons'. The Health Ministry's decision followed a joint recommendation by the committee on genetic experimentation in humans and the bioethics committee of the national academy of sciences.

An arrogant challenge to nature |  29 May 2005
Health Ministry blasted over decision to allow fetus sex selection |  20 May 2005
Israel allows sex selection of embryos for non-medical reasons
British Medical Journal |  28 May 2005
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