For centuries people have attempted, through various means, to influence the sex of a child when trying for a pregnancy. At the preconception stage this can be achieved either by sperm sorting, a technique that separates the x or y chromosome-bearing sperm prior to insemination, or by Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), when a cell from an eight-cell embryo is removed and analysed for its sex chromosome.
‘Family Balancing’, a term coined the United States, is defined as a measured approach to a non-medically indicated use of preconception gender selection. Family balancing in the USA provides married couples having at least one child the opportunity to increase the chance of having another child of the less represented sex in the family.
The HFEA has disallowed this technique in the U.K. on the grounds that it may lead to psychosocial harm to family life. Many have questioned the validity of this assumption, finding it non-evidence based and paternalistic. In a recent report (March 2005) from the House of Commons, the Science and Technology Committee have stated that they find “no adequate justification for prohibiting the use of sex selection for family balancing”. They have recommended that the U.K. government should review the current situation.
In this guide