By: Andrea Whittaker
Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care
March 24, 2015
This paper offers a critical discourse analysis of media debate over social sex selection in the Australian media from 2008 to 2014. This period coincides with a review of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research (2007), which underlie the regulation of assisted reproductive clinics and practice in Australia. I examine the discussion of the ethics of pre-implatation genetic diagnosis (PGD) within the media as ‘ethical publicity’ to the lay public. Sex selection through PGD is both exemplary of and interconnected with a range of debates in Australia about the legitimacy of certain reproductive choices and the extent to which procreative liberties should be restricted. Major themes emerging from media reports on PGD sex selection in Australia are described. These include: the spectre of science out of control; ramifications for the contestation over the public funding of abortion in Australia; private choices versus public authorities regulating reproduction; and the ethics of travelling overseas for the technology. It is concluded that within Australia, the issue of PGD sex selection is framed in terms of questions of individual freedom against the principle of sex discrimination – a principle enshrined in legislation – and a commitment to publically-funded medical care.