A couple who conceived twin baby boys through fertility treatment in Australia have aborted them because they wanted a girl.
The unidentified couple already have three sons and say that they want to have a baby girl because their daughter died soon after birth.
Having aborted the twins the couple are taking legal action for the right to determine the sex of any future child conceived through fertility treatment.
The husband has defended their actions saying: “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.”
Commenting on the case Bob Phelps, director of Gene Ethics, warned against allowing such selection.
He said: “I’m sorry they lost their daughter but, in the interests of society as a whole, they should seek some counselling for their grief and look for another way of getting a daughter into their family”.
The couple’s three current children were all conceived naturally.
The state of Victoria’s medical legal body, known as the Patient Review Panel, recently rejected the couple’s application to choose to have a daughter through IVF.
But the couple, who are both in their 30s, are now hoping that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal will overturn this decision when it hears their case in March.
If their bid to have a daughter fails, the couple have confirmed that they will travel to the US where sex selection is not illegal.
Sex selection is banned in the state of Victoria unless it’s required to stop the transmission of genetic conditions, or if the Patient Review Panel approves such use of an embryo.
Last June it emerged that dozens of women were aborting their children after having IVF to conceive them.
One obstetrics professor expressed shock at the news, saying each abortion was a “tragedy”.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) was forced to reveal that around 80 abortions a year are carried out on women who conceived by IVF. The figures were released in response to a Freedom of Information request.
They revealed that around half of the terminations were for women aged between 18 and 35.
As young mothers are less likely to suffer complications in pregnancy, press reports suggested that many of the abortions could have been for social reasons.
One woman, Victoria, told The Sunday Times newspaper that she chose to abort her IVF-conceived baby after it became clear her marriage was failing.
Victoria said: “I couldn’t cope with bringing up a child on my own and I didn’t want any link that would force me to stay in touch with my husband”.