Understanding the opposition

Current debates about sex selection start from a paradox: on the one hand, the 'liberal' argument in favour of sex selection is often thought to be sound; but on the other hand there is widespread public opposition to sex selection. So it is worth spending some time examining the arguments against sex selection. Four different types of argument are identified: (i) religious arguments; (ii) consequentialist arguments, mainly concerning disturbance to the sex ratio; (iii) arguments to the effect that sex selection involves a failure to respect the autonomy of a child; (iv) arguments to the effect that the motivation for sex selection brings with it an instrumental attitude to children not compatible with a child's need for unconditional acceptance and love. In the end the conclusion is reached that none of these arguments provide decisive arguments against the liberal thesis that sex selection ought to be permitted, especially where 'family balancing' is envisaged. In the light of this conclusion the issue of fetal sexing followed by selective feticide as a method of sex selection C is discussed. It is argued that sex selection is not in general a good reason for abortion, but that this practice may become unstoppable. Copyright (C) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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