Azara Blog: British public allegedly don't like sex selection

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Date published: 2005/11/05

The BBC says:

Parents should not be allowed to choose their baby's sex simply to balance their family, a snapshot survey finds.

The Newcastle University study showed that 80% of people questioned felt social sex selection was wrong.

They feared children could be turned into "consumer items", and that sex selection could lead to choosing babies on the basis of eye or hair colour.

The survey follows a recent Commons Science and Technology Committee report which advocated allowing gender choice.

However, the committee did not unanimously back the report.

Researchers from the Policy Ethics and Life Sciences Unit at Newcastle University interviewed 48 male and female members of the public and 10 medics.

They were asked their opinions after a discussion about the pros and cons of selecting the sex of a baby.

There were concerns that allowing a choice of sex could send out the message that it is morally acceptable to have a strong preference for one sex over the other.

Others suggested that offering choices like this might place an unfair burden on ordinary people.

Dr Tom Shakespeare, author of the study, which was funded by the Welcome Trust, said there had been some surprise that those questioned were so vehemently against sex selection.

"A lot of people say there is nothing wrong with sex selection, but the lay people we spoke to thought that it would change something important.

"I was surprised by the results, but these were not off-the-cuff remarks.

"These were the results of considered views after an hour or two of discussion.

"With a lot of subjects we have found that people change their minds, but not on this."

He added: "Our participants were very markedly against pre-natal sex selection (PSS).

"There was a greater ambivalence about using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select against genetic defect.

The 'family balancing' argument - where couples choose to have a child of one sex when they already have children of the other - had little support.

Gee whiz, 48 people surveyed, well that's representative of the British public then. And we don't know how biased either the selection of the 48 or the interview/survey itself were. (With the correct wording it's easy to bias people one way or the other.) It's hard to take such "research" seriously.

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