Do you dream of having a little boy? Or do you only want girls? The result is usually down to genetics, but fertility treatments such as IVF make sex selection possible.
That said, it’s an ethically touchy subject, and some people believe it’s unethical. In Israel, laws forbid clinics from providing sex selection unless the family meets specific criteria.
For instance, Israelis can apply to a special committee if they’ve had four children of the same sex and are suffering emotionally as a result. If the committee agrees, they can undergo sex selection IVF to balance their family. However, those with funds can travel to the West Bank and pay to do this at any time at private clinics. This raises all kinds of ethical questions, but it’s not stopping Israelis from making the trip.
A 29-year-old woman in Northern Israel shared her experience with Haaretz.
“I wanted a brother for my firstborn son. We tried the natural way, but then I had three girls, and I didn’t want to gamble and get pregnant a few more times. I wanted a guaranteed result and a final pregnancy.”
According to the existing Israeli policy, she would have been denied by the special committee, as she already had one son and three daughters. That led her to the West Bank.
“So, I tried this process in Nablus. They do in-vitro fertilization for three male embryos to increase the chances that one of them will get implanted. And in my case, all three did, so now I have three more sons.”
In many patriarchal countries, people prefer male children
This has led to concerns over the ethics of sex selection technology, which has been advancing rapidly since the 1980s. That led the Israeli Health Ministry to establish the special committee in 2005, and since then, they have ruled whether couples are eligible for sex selection.
Between 2005 – 2015, the committee received 784 requests from parents who wanted to choose their baby’s sex. Approximately 70% of the requests came from Jews and 30% from Arabs, with 70% of all people (and 100% of the Arab couples) requesting a boy). Between 2018 and 2020, they received 394 requests for sex selection (262 of those for a boy), but only 70 were approved. It takes the committee between two and three months to process the requests.
In contrast, the Palestinian Authority, which still uses Jordanian fertility law left over from Jordanian presence in the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, has no clear policies on the topic. As a result, doctors and clinics are willing to help couples with sex selection IVF.
According to another Northern Israeli mother, the cost is much simpler and cheaper in the West Bank
“Even in the best case, if approval is received from the committee, the cost of treatment in Israel is high, while the cost of the same treatment in Nablus ranges from 7,500 to 17,000 shekels ($5,270), including all the medication and the syringes.”
She recently started treatment at the Dima Center for Infertility and IVF in Nablus. She has four daughters and would like to have a son. While she fits the committee’s strict requirements, she was turned off by the long wait for approval.
While Islam permits sex selection, not everyone in Palestine agrees with the practice
Mahour Fawaz is the head of the Palestinian Islamic council that is responsible for fatwas. In November 2021, he wrote in a fatwa: “The sex of the fetus should not be determined by medical intervention unless an illness has been discovered … or if there will be serious harm in having a natural birth.”
While Palestinian and Israeli women know about the complex ethical arguments surrounding sex selection, they ultimately want control over their own family planning. What do you think about sex selection? Is it unethical, or should everyone be allowed to make their own choices? Let us know your thoughts. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.