Gender Selection and Religion

Sex selection refers to the practices of using different medical techniques in order to choose the gender of a baby. The term ‘sex-selection’ encompasses a number of methods. These include choosing embryos for the transfer and the implantations that follow, separating the sperm and opting to terminate a pregnancy. The topic of gender selection is quite relevant to discussions going on about gender and genetic technologies that may be used to choose one sex over the other.

Choosing the gender of a baby has a huge range of legal issues, social implications and ethical implications. A significant moral concern includes that gender selection for non-medical reasons may result in discrimination, often against females. 

There are three motivations for undergoing gender selection. These include:

  • Medical reasons, such as to prevent children from being born with x-linked disorders
  • Family balancing reasons, where couples choose to have a child of one particular sex, due to the fact that they already have children of the other sex
  • Gender preferences, which is often in favour of male offspring. This is a result of social, economic and cultural bias in favour of having male children due to certain policies that limit reproduction to only one child, such as China does

Catholic View

Catholics believe that choosing a gender is wrong and that it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. The process of gender selection is done via separating sperm, meaning the male is separated from the female, and then both are separated from the abnormal group. The specific sperm group will be used to fertilise the eggs in vitro, while all of the abnormal groups are discarded. Catholics do not support sex selection due to their belief that God is the one who chooses the sex of a child and that discarding sperm is unethical.

Buddhist View

Buddhists really don’t seem to have much of an opinion on the topic. They generally have a fairly neutral opinion on the matter. They will say there is nothing that determines it right or wrong. The main issue in Buddhism is whether anything actually hurts a living being. They say if gender selection does not hurt anyone, then there is no reason why they need to be against it.

Jewish View

The Jewish perspective on sex selection is that they believe it is ok, but only in certain circumstances. Such circumstances would be choosing the gender for medical reasons, not for bias reasons. Jews have a belief that God wants all human beings to use all of their abilities to improve health as much as we can, so for medical reasons, it can be a good thing. The Jewish do not agree with IVF sex selection just for personal reasons. If you just want a specific gender, then it is classed as unethical in the Jewish community.

Middle-eastern and multi-religious populations have studied the negative attitudes against non-medical reasons for sex selection. Religion and educational status have a large impact on beliefs surrounding sex selection. People who want children of both genders have been identified as predictors of the decision as to whether it should be accepted or not. It seems there are many mixed views among different religions on what is right and wrong. Whether it comes to the point that all types of sex selection become legal or not, is still a mystery. It can be said, however, that it is clear that many religions will not be taking part in gender selection processes and procedures.