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Medical Gender Selection

Medical gender selection is a process in which the sperm is washed and the X sperm is separated from the Y sperm. The sperm is than implanted in the woman or eggs are fertilized outside of the womb and than implanted into the woman. Not all Reproductive Endocronologists (RE) perform this procedure, however, it is becoming more available. The cost can range from 600 to 1600 hundred dollars. The likelihood of success is 50 to 90 percent for a female and 50 to 70 percent for a male.

There could be several reasons why a couple may choose such an option:

Sex Linked Genetic Diseases- There are genetic diseases that the male gender is more prone to than female, such as hemophilia (life threatening and debilitating spontaneous bleeding), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (the most common and severe form of the muscular dystrophies), Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (self-mutilation), and X-linked mental retardation (the most common cause of inherited mental retardation).  Couples who are facing such a situation may choose this method as an option to be blessed with a female child. This as well as PGD would not illiminate a genetic disorder that is inherited in both male and females. Both procedures only increase the likelihood of a desired gender.

Desire for a Specific Gender- While we might assume that most infertile couples would just be pleased with a child regardless of the gender. However, considering the costs that many couples endure for infertility procedures it may not be so difficult to imagine that the couple would choose gender selection as a way to ensure a particular gender. It may also be that a couple was successful once and had a male child and choose to try again and this time for a girl. These are not haram desires that a particular couple has. It is just a matter of choice.

The only Islamic View that I have yet to read on this subject is as follows:

Fetal Sex Selection

2. There was an agreement that the Islamic legal viewpoint is that fetal sex selection is unlawful when it is practiced at a national level, while on an individual basis, some of the scholars participating in the seminar, believe there is nothing legally wrong with the attempt to fulfill the wish of a married couple to have a boy or a girl through available medical means, while other scholars believe it is unlawful for fear that one sex might outnumber the other.

It can be said that this type of procedure is "playing God" or denying the "Qadar" of Allah, however, I disagree. We must remember that ultimately everything happens by the will of Allah. While we may make certain choices it is Allah who gives us the ability to choose. Many couples endure evasive infertility procedures for years and are not blessed with a child, others may be successful on the first attempt. So we must concede that it is ultimately up to Allah. This remains true with gender selection it is ultimately up to Allah to bless us with a male or female child, even when choosing such procedures. So in the end when we do receive the desired gender we should praise Allah and even when we do not we should also praise Allah. For it just may be that Allah has placed much good in His ultimate decree.

One must also consider that couples have naturally tried to choose the gender of their child for decades. Zakkariyya pbuh prayed for a male child in order to carry on his work. Are all such means also haram? Is a couple who follows advice that a certain diet may bring a male child doing haram? Is praying for a specefic gender also haram? How far are we wiling to go to place the title of haram on such desires of a couple or individual? Or is it only the modern medical approach that we fear?

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