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April 03, 2000 09:00am
11th-hour rush at sex-choice clinic
Source: South China Morning Post
by: Ella Lee

(HONG KONG) -- Couples are flocking to Hong Kong's only sex-selection clinic to choose the gender of their babies ahead of legislation expected to ban the service in two months.

Clinic owner Anthony Wong Shun-yun said the number of potential clients had risen by one-third in the past month to about 30 clients.

The Gender Choice Clinic, set up in 1993 in Central, has so far produced 100 babies with the sex of the child being chosen by separating the sperm and inseminating them artificially. Nine out of 10 clients requested a boy.

"Many said they wanted to grab the last chance before we have to stop the service. We explained to them about our situation and asked them to make their own choice," Mr Wong said.

The clinic wrote to legislators recently to lobby against the adoption of the Human Reproductive Technology Bill, which would outlaw its service.

Mr Wong said the clinic would not push customers to undergo services and there had been no rise in fees - still $19,000 per cycle of treatment.

The bill, expected to be passed in June, will ban most sex selection of babies. Only selection for medical reasons to avoid sex-linked genetic diseases will be allowed.

The clinic's letter to legislators last month said banning the service would deprive people of their rights. It argued gender selection was part of family planning and nothing to do with sex discrimination. A ban could also mean people would try other methods of sex selection such as Chinese medicine, which are unregulated, the clinic said.

Pre-selection of gender would minimise the chance of abortion, it said.

Mr Wong also called on the Government to extend the public consultation period, which has ended, saying the Government had failed to raise wide discussions in society.

However, the chairwoman of the Bills Committee, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of The Frontier, said using selection technology would upset the natural balance.

"It reinforces sex discrimination as Chinese families always prefer boys to girls," she said.

"If there are too many men in our society 20 years from now, how can they find a wife? Are we going to have them go across the border to bring a wife back?"

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