Monday 2 August 2010

Mum heads to Thailand in bid for daughter

A Melbourne woman is flying to Thailand to circumvent Australian guidelines which prevent families from determing the sex of of IVF babies.

The woman, known as Olivia, has three sons and says she has a strong desire to have a daughter.

"It's just something deep in me that I can't shake. I just feel this really strong wish to have a daughter to raise with my sons in a balanced family," she said.

"We conceived naturally for our three sons. This is not something we've taken on lightly."

Families are not allowed to choose the sex of a child through IVF in Australia under current guidelines and that is why she has to travel to Thailand for the procedure, which she estimates will cost about $15,000.

She says the treatment should be available in Australia.

"To me it's about providing choice but with parameters," she said.

"I don't think there is going to be a flood of women because this doesn't affect a lot of women."

Olivia says she is in touch with a number of other women who are also going overseas to obtain gender selection treatment.

Professor Loane Skene, from the University of Melbourne and a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, supports the plan.

She says Australians are allowed to travel to the United States to have a surrogate baby and does not see why Olivia and her family should be prevented from doing what they want to do.

However, Professor Skene does not think the law needs to be changed.

"I think many people are going to have sympathy for this sort of thing because it is such a strong human urge," she told ABC Radio's Jon Faine.

"It seems to me that the kerfuffle of going through IVF with all of the ups and downs and heartache of it all is not something that people are going to take on lightly quite apart from the cost."

Victorian Premier John Brumby has ruled out relaxing restrictions on access to IVF treatment in the state.

"There might be some particular cases where there is a medical case for saying that it's important to have a boy or a girl, but where it is non-medical, the Law Reform Commission and indeed the overwhelming body of advice on this suggests that it is not a requirement or a priority, in terms of changing policy," he said.

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