Embryo swapping – where do we draw the line?

Modern medicine and assisted conception techniques have helped millions of people around the world experience the joy of becoming a parent. Dabbling in creating human being has also raised plenty of ethical questions along the way. Most recently, a woman who is desperate to give her son a baby brother, posted this message on various Facebook support groups for IVF couples.

“Hello, we have been trying to give my child a sibling for three years … we want to complete our family with a son. We have a great quality female embryo. Would you like to consider a trade?”

Anyone for a trade?

While the majority of responses have been from those who are appalled at the mere thought of trading an embryo like a commodity, the woman has actually received some interest from like-minded parents including a couple who were devastated to find out that their embryo was a boy.

What about being grateful for what you have?

There is no denying that parents will often have a preference for a boy or a girl, especially second or third (or fourth …) time around. The couple who responded to the idea of a swap have spent around eight years and thousands of dollars on IVF treatments. They already have two boys. I get it. But to openly voice your “devastation” and refuse to use a viable embryo makes no sense to me. What happens if they swap and the embryo they receive doesn’t result in a successful pregnancy? Ethical, moral and legal questions abound.

The New York Post reported that the mum said, “It would be very nice to have someone to share things with which boys just don’t get. It would be very nice not to have nothing but fart jokes at the table all the time. That’d be great.”

Um, I’ve got news for you … girls can be gross too!

However, she went on to say, “If I were to pick a really girlie thing to do with her, she might not like it. Our elder child loves dance and has an aptitude for it. If she decided she had an aptitude or talent for something else – baseball or whatever – we would encourage her.”

Maybe that’s why I don’t get it. I don’t have such strong ideas of what activities boys or girls should be doing. It’s great that they would encourage their child in pursuit of something that they deem to not be “girlie” but perhaps those preconceived notions of gender roles may be the key to why their baby’s sex is so important to them.

What do you think? Should we be allowed to choose if we have a boy or a girl? Is embryo swapping a step too far? Join the discussion in the comments below.

This blog was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.

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  1. dawnblyth 02/12/2018 at 5:25 pm

    As human nature we find it very easy to judge another person’s decision based on our thought processes. It is something that happens all the time. It is human nature. While I don’t personally agree with embryo swapping, if it is something that is going to bring both these couple’s the joy of having another child join their family then who are we to judge?

  2. Alezandra 01/12/2018 at 11:03 pm

    I find this to be a little sad. Gender should determine how you complete your family. It’s a human being – boy or girl it doesn’t matter. To be swapping human beings now it’s just not right.

  3. SarahBlair 01/12/2018 at 10:43 pm

    This whole situation is bizarre!! There are so many real concern about a baby ie its health etc than what gender it is. And while is a brother for their child it’s not genetically, they won’t look the same, the other child won’t have family characteristics. I recently read an article about a white couple that wanted African-American twins so she ‘adopted’ embryos and gave birth to black children, It’s just a weird concept. Im sure that there are lots of already born children that needed a home

  4. kymmage 30/11/2018 at 10:32 pm

    I have met people who had gender disappointments and I didn’t think of them as monstrous for doing so. They had longings and I couldn’t tell them that it was right or wrong. It wasn’t my place and my life experience was so different to theirs. We have two girls. I’m very happy. I wanted two girls. Or rather once I had one girl I wanted another girl. Why? I was an older sister to a younger brother. I felt like if I had a son I would watch my own childhood unfold? I don’t so much believe that gender matters. I have two very different girls. One is all Minecraft and lego, dinosaurs and dragons. The other is all jewelery and make up and everything pink! Even so both girls say they’d love a brother. Too bad that won’t be happening 😉

  5. Mands1980 27/11/2018 at 7:49 pm

    I don’t think this is right we should all be happy with what we end up with. I know a few family’s with 4 boys, 3 boys and 4 girls and they were all healthy that’s the main thing to be worried about. So yes I do think this is a step too far.

  6. MuddledUpMolly 26/11/2018 at 3:22 pm

    I don’t agree with this but at the end of the day, this is someone else’s life and choice. I personally don’t believe you should mess with the natural way of doing things. Some people would love a child no matter the gender, I know for my husband and I we would be happy for either as all our children are very much loved and wanted.

  7. Shorrty4life1 20/11/2018 at 10:27 pm

    That’s sad. I believe if you are tryin so hard you should be happy with any gender. A child is a child at the end of the day why would you love it any different because of the gender. That’s sad trying to swap embryos

  8. Bevik1971 15/11/2018 at 10:17 am

    Ummmm no I don’t agree with this at all. I think it’s playing God to much, although I can understand parents who can’t have children and need donors etc, but I think this is a bit ridiculous to be honest. I agree with what about being happy with what you have and hopefully having a healthy baby? We didn’t want to know the sex of our daughter before she was born and didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl. No don’t like this concept at all I’m afraid.

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