Juan Masia, SJ (Sophia University)
One of the readers of this column has sent a postcard asking about sex selection. Obviously, this is a subject which is very much related to the main theme I have been dealing with under the title of "seimei no shouhinka."

There are two points to be considered: first, whether sex selection itself is morally wrong; secondly, whether the methods used are morally wrong.
First of all, taking into account that both sexes have equal human dignity and have the right to receive an equal treatment, we should reject sex selection, while leaving room for some exceptional cases, for instance, therapeutic reasons. Secondly, with regard to the methods been used, we should reject specially abortion as a method of sex selection.
There has been a lot of talk in the mass media recently about "pre-implantation genetic diagnosis" as a method of sex selection. Embryos obtained by, in vitro fertilization, are tested in order to check for genetic diseases. Objections against this method have been raised, not only from the viewpoint of the discrimination between the sexes, but also from the viewpoint of discrimination of genetically disabled persons.
The technology called "sperm sorting" has become a more common method of sex selection. X and Y spermatozoon are sorted in order to obtain an embryo of the desired sex.
At the beginning, this technology was used for therapeutic reasons. For instance, hemophilia is more common in boys than in girls. A couple with a medical record of this illness might like to make sure to have a girl instead of a boy. At that time, the "Glover Report" to the European Commission of Bioethics said: "Clinics should not be permitted to offer sex selection of children, except on medical grounds" (J. Glover et al., Ethics of the New Reproductive Technologies: The Glover Report to the European Commission, Northern Illinois University Press, 1989).
But, unfortunately, this method of sex selection is also been used for non medical reasons, under the euphemism of "finding a balance between boys and girls within the family."
It goes without saying that the most objectionable method of sex selection from the viewpoint of morality is abortion. Although there is not so much talk about it, in fact abortion is been used as a method of sex selection.

I think we have here a clear example of "seimei no shouhinka," namely, dealing with life as a mere commodity. If the parents decide to abort a fetus for the reason that it is not of the desired sex, the human dignity of the unborn life is negated and the most basic relationships within the family are destroyed. But also, besides that, the fact that abortion becomes a routine as a method of sex selection shows a basic weakness of our culture, which is becoming more and more inclined to deal with life as a commodity.
Apart from the general issue of the morality of abortion, I think it is important to consider the problem of discrimination. In some cases, the desire of the prospective parents to undertake the procedure of sex selection is an expression of sex prejudice, mostly against women.

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