Gender selection IVF ban continues in Australia

The National Health and Medical Research Council released the new guidelines.

January 22 2019

Parents hoping to choose the gender of their baby in Australia will have to continue to go overseas to the US or Thailand, due to current restrictions around gender selection.

Australia’s peak medical council chose not to legalise IVF gender selection in April 2017, with a decision by National Health and Medical Research Council that upheld an existing ban, all but for medical reasons, due to the fact that the procedure could limit the “quality of life” of the child.

"Sex selection techniques may not be used unless it is to reduce the risk of transmission of a genetic condition, disease or abnormality that would severely limit the quality of life of the person who would be born,” the guidelines state.

"A missed opportunity"
President of the Fertility Society of Australia Michael Chapman said the updated guidelines were a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

“An opportunity to move forward only comes up every five to ten years and this is a missed opportunity," Dr Chapman said.

“The guidelines haven’t really moved forward from where we were in 2007, while the rest of the world is moving forward. The people who will really miss out on this are patients.”

Dr Mark Bowman, medical director of Genea Fertility and former president of the Fertility Society of Australia said the decision was “ludicrous”.

“This is a bunch of people who don’t want something simply because they don’t like it, not because there isn’t a genuine need or demand in Australia... This just flies in the face of civil liberties."

getty images

getty images

Individual states may find loophole
Australian clinics still might be able to offer the procedure without risking losing their license if a state or territory green-lights the practice, in an apparent loophole in the guidelines, according to

Several IVF clinics made submissions to the National Health and Medical Research Council arguing that families who already have at least two children of the same sex should be able to choose the gender of the third.

The laws of gender selection in Australia
If new laws were passed, couples would be able to select the gender of their third or fourth baby, for example, if they already have two girls and are seeking a boy.

Currently, only couples with medical reasons can choose the sex of their embryos when undergoing IVF.

A single round of IVF costs around $10,000 in Australia but many couples are heading to Asia or the US where they are paying between $30,000 and $50,000 to undergo gender selection IVF.

Dr Devora Lieberman from Genea Fertility said: “In Australia, in the UK and in the US – 60 per cent of couples who seek sex selection in the first world are looking for a girl."

“People think that everyone is going to want a boy but what I find often is there’s a real drive for women to have a daughter,” she added.