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Australian couple terminates twin boys because they desire a daughter

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An unidentified Victorian couple, who have three naturally-conceived sons but lost a daughter right after birth, are appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to allow them the right to select the sex of their next child by IVF treatment. They have turned to VCAT after an independent panel, the Patient Review Panel, denied the couple the right to voluntarily ensure they have the daughter. VCAT will hear the couple's case in March.

The couple is so desperate to have a girl that they recently aborted twin boys conceived through IVF, saying it was a traumatic decision, but they couldn't continue to have unlimited numbers of children. If the decision isn't overturned, they say they will go to the US to conceive a girl. The woman — in her thirties — says she's obsessed with having a daughter to the point that her psychological health depends on it.

Victoria's Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 banned sex selection except where medical conditions dictated it. The man thinks sex selection should be determined on an ad hoc basis. He said, "Girls will go and get abortions and terminate when they know it's not the right sex. That's the reality. We think it's our right to have a chance to do it. It's ridiculous that sex selection is illegal actually." Although this may smack of gender eugenics, Australian IVF pioneer Gab Kovacs agreed with the couple. "I can't see how it could possibly harm anyone," he said. "Who is this going to harm if this couple have their desire fulfilled?"

But Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps had another take. "I'm sorry they lost their daughter but, in the interests of society as a whole, they should seek some counsellng for their grief and look for another way of getting a daughter into their family," he said. "They sound like good parents and could offer a home to a child who needs one." He suggested overseas adoption was a possibility.