Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 139–153 | Cite as

Comparing Non-Medical Sex Selection and Saviour Sibling Selection in the Case of JS and LS v Patient Review Panel: Beyond the Welfare of the Child?

  • Malcolm K. SmithEmail author
  • Michelle Taylor-Sands
Original Research


The national ethical guidelines relevant to assisted reproductive technology (ART) have recently been reviewed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The review process paid particular attention to the issue of non-medical sex selection, although ultimately, the updated ethical guidelines maintain the pre-consultation position of a prohibition on non-medical sex selection. Whilst this recent review process provided a public forum for debate and discussion of this ethically contentious issue, the Victorian case of JS and LS v Patient Review Panel (Health and Privacy) [2011] VCAT 856 provides a rare instance where the prohibition on non-medical sex selection has been explored by a court or tribunal in Australia. This paper analyses the reasoning in that decision, focusing specifically on how the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal applied the statutory framework relevant to ART and its comparison to other uses of embryo selection technologies. The Tribunal relied heavily upon the welfare-of-the-child principle under the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic). The Tribunal also compared non-medical sex selection with saviour sibling selection (that is, where a child is purposely conceived as a matched tissue donor for an existing child of the family). Our analysis leads us to conclude that the Tribunal’s reasoning fails to adequately justify the denial of the applicants’ request to utilize ART services to select the sex of their prospective child.


Assisted reproductive technology Sex selection PGD Saviour siblings Health law Selective reproduction 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Centre for Health Law ResearchQueensland University of Technology, School of LawBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Melbourne Law SchoolUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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