A fertility clinic in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus is at the centre of a controversial debate in Denmark after placing advertisements offering parents-to-be a sex selection service for their future child.
According to newspaper reports in the Scandinavian country, private Danish medical clinic KirurgiRejser is offering packages – through newspaper outlets - offering fertility treatment discounts for Danish couples willing to undergo the procedure in the north of Cyprus for a fee of €5,350.
Gender selection is illegal in almost all countries.
A source at the Ministry of Health in Cyprus said that the matter “is being looked into” and would issue an announcement shortly.
Meanwhile, the advertisements in Denmark have failed to mention that the clinic is situated in the north of the island and in the Turkish controlled area with many believing that treatment is offered within the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Republic. Potential parents are also promised the choice of choosing the sex of their baby, a short waiting period for donor eggs and the pledge of no hereditary diseases.
The advertisement has sparked a fierce debate in Denmark with some arguing that it should be the parents’ right to choose how they want to conceive their child while others argue that offering gender and other DNA options is morally wrong.
Speaking to the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, a leading expert at the Copenhagen-based Rigshospitalet Fertility Clinic hit out against the advertisements.
"This is the first time that I have seen these kinds of deals for Danes, and I find it reprehensible that people would gender sort, simply because they have a desire for a specific gender," commented Soren Siebe. “The technique that the clinic uses to sort sperm is undocumented and no-one knows the possible long-term effects.”
The Danish clinic also offers plastic surgery, stem cell treatment and weight loss operations while the company director is Egyptian-born Atef El-Kher.
According to El-Kher, several couples have already expressed an interest in the package deals adding that another 200 people from Denmark have made their way to the occupied north of the island for gender selection treatment.
A government health official in Denmark this week said that a probe would take place to look into the “legality of the ads”.
A Turkish Cypriot website, www.ivfcyprus.net, offers potential visitors to the pseudostate that chance to choose which clinic they would prefer for gender selection or other treatments.
According to the website, “Gender selection is an attractive option for intended parents in Cyprus. Utilising high-tech methods for gender selection in Cyprus, expert IVF specialists are seeing record number of patients for gender selection involving ― PGD and MicroSort.”
It goes on to say: “The United Kingdom allows the use of PGD for detecting gender abnormalities but not for gender selection. In fact, UK citizens wanting PGD for gender selection frequently travel to Cyprus to undergo IVF treatment for family balancing options. Traveling to Cyprus for gender selection is appealing due to the accurateness and safety of treatment.”
Back in 2011, fees for gender selection fertility treatments – again to the north of Cyprus – were offered in the UK sparking a similar debate after the Daily Mail ran a story about a leading NHS fertility doctor making money of a similar scheme.
Gynaecologist Charles Kingsland, clinical director of Britain’s largest NHS fertility unit and a former inspector for the fertility watchdog, has been charging would-be parents £14,000 at the time.