It’s the controversial fertility treatment that’s illegal in Australia.
But that’s not stopping hundreds of Australian families from heading overseas to secretly choose the sex of their baby via IVF.
And it’s baby girls that Aussie mums and dads so desperately want – and what they’re paying big bucks to get.
How to make a (gender specific) baby
Gender Selection Australia have already sent more than 2500 Aussie couples to the US for selective IVF. And even though it costs almost US$15,000, they say business is booming.
While research shows that certain cultural communities are all about the blue bundles, the overwhelming feedback from IVF clinics working with Australian parents is that a baby girl is the missing piece.
Gender Selection Australia estimates that around 70% of its clients are desperate for a girl. The company’s relationship manager, Vivienne Rounce, tells the Sydney Morning Herald that it’s almost an instinctive desire for many women.
“A lot of women, they grow up having a dolly and pushing a pram… so they kind of have an inbuilt psychological desire to have a girl. They just feel like it’s the norm and it compounds to be something they want so desperately,” Vivienne says.
“It’s hard to understand if you don’t have that feeling yourself. But people really struggle with not having a boy or a girl.”
For other couples, it’s all about balancing their family or achieving a pigeon pair. [These couples] want two kids. They have got a boy, and they want a girl, or vice versa,” she says. And she says couple who jump through these expensive hoops to have the baby they want usually keep it secret from family and friends because they feel guilty or ashamed.
Illegal in Australia
Gender selection is a hotly debated topic since the National Health and Medical Research Council upheld its ban in April 2017, after a lengthy review. To remain accredited, Australian fertility clinics have to abide by the guidelines, which don’t allow gender selection for ‘social’ reasons.
Kolb Fertility, a Queensland-based provider of gender selection services, has also noticed a spike in interest from families. Before the ban, the company was sending about five people to its clinic in California each month. Now, it’s closer to 20 couples. ““We would get a minimum of 50 to 60 inquiries a week,” says Kolb Fertility owner, Graeme Locastro.
Selective IVF is not on the cards for Australia yet. While it highlighted the ethical concerns behind legalising gender selection, the National Health and Medical Research Council is keen for public discussion on the topic. Professor Ian Olver, who chaired the council’s working committee, says Australian society needs to be ready “both socially and politically,” for changes to be made.
Experienced IVF? We love this honest and candid experience of the process. Or if you are feeling upset about the gender balance of your family, take a look at this article about how to cope with gender disappointment.