This chapter addresses the issue of ‘social’ sex selection (sex selection for reasons other than the avoidance of sex-linked disorders). After outlining the legal and regulatory context in the UK, it examines the view that ‘family balancing’ sex selection is morally preferable to other (‘social’) forms and should enjoy a relatively privileged (moral and/or legal) status. It concludes that ‘family balancing’ is not (or need not be) any better than other forms of sex selection. The remaining part of the chapter considers the more fundamental question of whether any form of sex selection is permissible and reviews several further arguments against it. The conclusion ultimately arrived at is complex. It is argued that while sex selection is not intrinsically or necessarily wrong, many actual instances of it are, either because of their negative effects (for example, on population sex ratios) or because they are based on sexist beliefs and attitudes.
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