About Dr. Silverman

There’s No Shame In Wanting A Baby Girl

Unfortunately, gender selection still carries a bit of a social stigma today. For whatever reason, there are some that are uncomfortable with the fact that parents can choose the gender of their baby. But I am of the strong belief that there is nothing at all to be ashamed of in wanting to select the gender of your baby. Many families have substantial reasons for these decisions, whether it be ensuring family balance or even avoiding a gender-specific genetic disease. We live in a free society. Parents have every right to choose if and when they want to have children and how many. Now that a combination of nature and science allows a couple to choose the gender of their next child, only they should have the right to decide. Gender selection is a very personal decision that should not be judged by the public, nor should it be legislated by the politicians.

Stories like this one, involving common people rarely make the news, particularly outside the country of their residence. I felt it was poignant enough to highlight it here. An Australian woman named Jodi McMahon was a victim of cyberbullying after opting to choose the gender of her baby, and this needs to stop.

After having seven boys (yes, seven!), the McMahons decided to fly to the U.S. so that they could have a daughter (they ended up having two girls!). In 2012 McMahon and her husband Andrew decided to speak publicly about their decision on Australia’s Channel Nine program, 60 Minutes, sparking a national debate in Australia about whether or not gender selection should be legal.

Now a healthy debate can be positive, but according to the United Kingdom’s second biggest-selling daily newspaper The Daily Mail, the national conversation turned dangerous when the McMahons found themselves being abused and threatened online. She was bullied, cursed at, and even threatened by some that they would come to her home.

“There was only like a handful of people who took it to the extreme, they were just nasty, just plain out nasty,” McMahon told The Daily Mail. “They said nasty horrible things, which I would be pretty sure not all those people would say to your face.”

But McMahon is trying to ignore the cyberbullying and appreciate her two daughters, Addison and Evie, along with her seven sons.

The McMahon’s are not entirely unique. They are one of about 100 Australian couples who fly to the U.S. each year to choose the gender of their baby through IVF, and I am proud to say, that I have been able to help some of these couples in their quest for freedom in growing their families.

Another Australian woman named Jayne Cornwill also flew to the U.S. so that she could have a baby girl, since the procedure is illegal in Australia. After having three boys Cornwill and her husband Jonathon mortgaged their home so that they could pay for the PGD/IVF procedure.

“I loved my boys and was so grateful for them but my yearning was all-consuming,” Cornwill told Woman’s Day. “There’s such a taboo about these feelings, but if you have them, they’re undeniable.”

After a successful experience with gender selection and the delivery of a healthy baby girl named Emmerson, Cornwill decided to create a Facebook page called “Legalise Gender Selection in Australia.” The group currently has 141 members and is trying to convince the Ethics Committee in Australia to overturn the law making PGD illegal. The group’s message on Facebook is worth reading. “Our ethics committee is stuck in the dark ages, and need to open up to the idea that women and families, after having numerous children of the same gender, would love to have the option of having a child of an opposite gender. PGD does not mean designer babies and gender unbalancing but a way for women and families to have the opportunity to raise both Sons and Daughters.”

The Cornwills and McMahons are just two representatives of families choosing PGD.

“I know I’m not alone,” Cornwill said. “We met so many other Australian families doing PGD in America but no one talks about it. I want people to know it’s OK and there’s help out there.”

According to a 2013 study and poll by Roy Morgan Research, only 20 percent of Australians agreed with gender selection. Despite the fact that the procedure can be life-changing for couples, there is still a lag in public perception.

It is likely that many in Australia think that couples will select to have baby boys, having a negative impact on the female gender, however, like I’ve already written, more couples in my practice actually ask to have baby girls. Additionally, some couples are making their gender selection decisions to avoid giving a gender-specific illness to their child.

So I ask of the general public, as well as members of the political and legislative establishments in countries which prohibit gender selection to think twice before judging, put yourself in these couples’ shoes, and respect their decisions. Allow them to practice their freedom in the countries where they were born and reside. Until you do, I will welcome them with open arms in my New York office, in the country which is truly free.