Health Care Analysis

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 252–266 | Cite as

The Ethics of Nonmedical Sex Selection

  • H. StrangeEmail author
  • R. Chadwick
Original Article


The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that there are significant ethical problems with nonmedical sex selection, and that prohibitive legislation is justified. The central argument put forward is that nonmedical sex selection is a sexist practice which promotes socially restrictive conceptions of sex, gender and family. Several steps are taken to justify this position: background information on technology and legislation is provided, the neoliberal position that is supportive of nonmedical sex selection is described, and preliminary reasons for rejecting this approach are given. A detailed description of how a harm/benefit based analysis contributes to the argument against nonmedical sex selection, and how it successfully counters most criticism, is provided. The paper concludes by suggesting that virtue ethics further strengthens the moral argument against nonmedical sex selection.


Sex selection PGD Reproductive rights Virtue ethics Family balancing 



Preimplantation genetic diagnosis


In vitro fertilisation


Human fertilisation and embryology authority


American society for reproductive medicine



The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is gratefully acknowledged. The work was part of the Programme of the ESRC Research Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.cesagen (ESRC Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics)Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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