Preconception Sex Selection for Non‐Medical Reasons: A Representative Survey from the UK

Human Reproduction 18 (10):2231-2234 (2003)
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BACKGROUND: Preconception sex selection for non-medical reasons raises serious moral, legal and social issues. The main concern is based on the assumption that a freely available service for sex selection will distort the natural sex ratio and lead to a severe gender imbalance. However, for a severe gender imbalance to happen, at least two conditions have to be met. First, there must be a significant preference for children of a particular sex, and second, there must be a considerable demand for preconception sex selection. To ascertain whether or not these two conditions are met, we have conducted a survey in Germany. METHODS: As a representative sample of the German population, 1094 men and women aged 18-45 years were asked about their gender preferences and whether or not they could imagine selecting the sex of their children through flow cytometric separation of X- and Y-bearing sperm followed by intrauterine insemination. RESULTS: 58% of respondents stated that they do not care about the sex of their offspring. 30% wish to have a family with an equal number of boys and girls. 4% would like to have more boys than girls, 3% more girls than boys, 1% only boys and 1% only girls. For first-borns, however, there is still a preference for boys over girls. While 75.6% claimed to have no gender preference, 14.2% would like their first child to be a boy and 10.1% would like their first child to be a girl. Whereas 6% could imagine taking advantage of preconception sex selection, 92% found this to be out of the question. Even in the hypothetical case that a medication for sex selection were ever to become available, 90% stated that they would not want to use it. CONCLUSION: Given that a majority does not seem to care about the sex of their offspring and only a minority seem to be willing to select the sex of their children, a freely available service for preconception sex selection for non-medical reasons is rather unlikely to cause a severe gender imbalance in Germany.
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