Prêt-à-Porter Procreation: Contemplating the Ban on Preimplantation Sex Selection

Keywords: designer babies, genetic testing, sex selection, bioethics, preimplantation genetic testing, reproductive rights, reproductive autonomy


Preimplantation genetic testing makes it possible to genetically test in vitro embryos for the presence of genetic disease. It also identifies the sex of the embryo. Preimplantation sex selection is prohibited in a number of jurisdictions, including South Africa. Sex selection may be considered to be included in the ambit of the right to reproductive autonomy under the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. An analysis of international human rights law supports such a view, and a comparison with foreign law suggests that South Africa should be wary of adopting blanket prohibitions without considering their context. The analysis demonstrates that a prohibition of preimplantation sex selection may have no place in South African law.




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