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New 'Designer Babies' Plan

Sky News | March 24, 2005

Parents could choose the sex of their babies under new plans put forward by MPs today.

The radical proposals call for personal fertility decisions to be taken out of the hands of regulators.

Instead, couples in consultation with their doctors would generally have the last word on embryo screening and selection.

The Science and Technology Select Committee recommendation moves away from putting the welfare of a potential child before the needs of its parents.

Most controversially, the proposals go some way towards the creation of so-called "designer" babies.

If accepted, they will give parents greater freedom to determine the sex of their children and ensure they are genetically sound.

The cross party committee was bitterly divided over several key issues and five of the 10 members refused to put their names to the final report.

Tory MP Bob Spink said: "The report is completely wrong - it is so ridiculous you couldn't make it up.

"It flies in the face of the evidence we received."

Labour MP Geraldine Smith said: "This is on par with a Frankenstein report. It is outrageous.

"It was always going to be controversial, but to adopt such an extreme, libertarian view is biased and is asking for trouble."

However, fertility expert Lord Robert Winston said he could see no problem with allowing parents to choose the sex of their baby.

"The number of people who will want to choose the sex of their baby, on clinical experience, is very small," he said.

"People will not go through IVF to choose the sex of their baby and even if they did it would not in any way, I think, damage the fabric of our society.

"I don't think you can regulate it. Because eventually, within the next few years, we are going to have very simple methods of choosing the sex of your baby.

"I think it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to regulate that."

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