An increasing number of UK couples are heading to New York for IVF treatment that guarantees they have a baby of their preferred gender, according to a Manhattan clinic.
Such a trip can cost up to £30,000 and according to Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, the IVF specialist who runs the clinic, is mostly used by couples who already have several children and want to ‘balance the family’.
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Sex selection is possible via IVF, as doctors can determine the sex of an embryo before it is implanted into the womb. In the UK the procedure is banned for social reasons and for ‘family balancing’. Doctors are only allowed to intervene in cases where there is a risk of a child being born with a sex-related genetic disorder, such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, which only affects boys. In the US these legal requirements do not apply.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Steinberg, who trained at Cambridge, claimed: “I have had leading British politicians from the UK coming here, to this office, for services that are outlawed in the UK.”
“The problem with all these countries where sex selection is not legal - Britain included - is that medicine and its financial arrangements are integrated into the government.
“Once government becomes involved in paying for everything, then government starts making decisions about people’s care.”
He also claimed that the overall effect would have no impact on population ratios as the numbers were so small, and added that gender requirements from British couples were “fairly evenly split, perhaps slightly favouring girls.”
In contrast, customers from China and India almost exclusively want a male child.
Women who undergo the process first attend an IVF clinic in the UK, where they go through the egg-stimulation stage. They then fly to the US for the remainder of the treatment.
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