BY ANGUS MACDONALD BRITAIN'S DOCTORS backed away from recommending that couples be able to choose the sex of their babies "for social reasons" at their annual conference this week.
The powerful ethics committee of the British Medical Association had recommended that gender selection for medical or social reasons was a morally acceptable form of family planning, opening the way for couples to choose socalled "designer babies".
But in a heated debate at their annual conference in Torquay, representatives of Britain's 85,000 doctors decided to recommend that only "medical reasons" should allow parents to choose the gender of their child before conception.
Only in cases where babies run the risk of being born with inherited diseases which affect only one sex, such as haemophilia or Duchesne muscular dystrophy, should sex selection be permitted.
Paul Tully of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child told the Catholic Herald that SPUC was opposed to sex selection for both medical and social reasons because it played into the hands of those who opposed the right to life of the unborn.
"It promotes the notion of a baby as a consumer item whose existence is for the sake of parents and the fulfilment of their family ambitions," he said. "This is part of the same mentality that says 'if a child is handicapped, then it is defective goods and you can send it back'," he added.
The Catholic Church is opposed to sex selection because it normally involves artificial insemination, might encourage abortion and raises questions about the balance of the sexes in the general population.