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Free Sample Research Paper on Human Dignity

For decades, sex selection has been a controversial issue, choosing a sex of a child is viewed as a justifiable act since there is no harm done to anyone.I believe that gender selection creates balance in a family and culturally viewed as a desirable practice to fulfil social norms. However, others ethicists believe that sex selection reinforces the idea of sexual discrimination within our societies (Scully, Shakespeare & Banks, 2006).This explains why there are renewed efforts from civil societies and government to analyze arguments presented by different authors who either support or oppose sex selection.

This essay analyzes the meaning of human dignity from two different perspectives, the essay examines how human dignity is defined by our expression of choices and as an inherent value by the society. Based on a case study, the essay describes the social attitudes, norms and circumstance that influence such choices and their impact on our understanding of human dignity. The essay presents justifications of particular actions concerning sex selection and analyzes some of the aspects of human dignity that can be jeopardized by actions from these two perspectives.


The concept of human dignity

Human dignity is defined based on beliefs that dignity is inherent, therefore humans posses specific capabilities that are is not found in other creatures making them unique.However, choosing sex of a child does not define the inherent dignity of human beings, permitting gender selection is considered as discrimination against specific gender making it less valuable according to Blyth, Frith & Crawshaw (2008).

Despite the various social reasons for sex selection which seems to be justified including having a family balance or replacing the deceased child or for cultural reasons, these reasons do not define human dignity especially in situations where boys are preferred more than girls. (Kalfoglou, Kammersell, Philpott & Dahl, 2013).

Kalfoglou, Kammersell, Philpott & Dahl (2013) views sex selection as an idea that reinforces sexual discrimination, therefore from this perspective, human dignity is viewed as a situation where certain gender is prevented from existing and the action is perceived to be justifiable because there is no people existing to experience this harm.Therefore, individuals created by choice have no reasons to complain. Despite these, claims sex selection lowers human dignity causing harm to the wider society. Sex selection has resulted in gender disparities in many countries especially in Asian countries like China and India resulting in patriarchal societal agreements perceived to discriminate girls and women according to Mudde (2010).

The social attitudes, norms and circumstances that influence such perspective

Due to advanced technology, sex selection culture has become popular causing harm to females. Parents who are able to access technology have the power to control the sex of their children escaping the societal stigma of failing to give birth to a son. Many parents avoid giving birth to girls since they are viewed as individuals not worth living.Parents perceive that sex selection gives them the ability to choose what type of children they want. However, this process makes children be more like products (Webb,2014).

Sex selection can also make parents be unwilling to accept some of their preferred sex shortcomings lowering the child’s self-esteem. Having a strong preference for a specific sex can cause harm for the unwanted sex including rejection and killing to avoid societal blames and eliminate shame. But proponents of this idea argue that it is normal for such ideas to be rejected initially especially when people are unfamiliar with the idea, making the idea be rejected. Those opposing the idea of sex selection states that that having children is not a right that one can put conditions on it, children should be viewed as gifts (De Melo-Martín, 2013). These arguments are based on our cultural beliefs.

Scully, Shakespeare & Banks (2006) reflects back on our traditional patterns of giving gifts, in their opinion, a gift should be taken without putting any condition to it. A gift is something we should accept unconditionally the same applies to children. From a cultural perspective, sex selection promotes the idea of treating children as a commodity; it is compared to buying and selling of children.Choosing some of the features we want is acceptable only to products like cars or other commodities but does not apply to human beings. Therefore sex selection lowers and discriminates specific gender.

Justification of specific actions in relation to human dignity

Proponents of sex selection argue that everyone have the right to live his life as he pleases to as long as the person does not cause harm or infringe upon other peoples’ rrights.The harm principle implies that individuals opposing sex selection need to prove that the action is going to cause harm to others which in this case sex selection does not cause any harm to anybody. Proponents of sex selection argue that the practice is considered harmful based on sociological and psychological assumptions .They further argue that since sex selection is an act that is contrary to individual religious or moral beliefs (Dahl,2007).

A report by The Task Force on ethics and laws highlights the common objection arguments used to reject the idea of sex selection. The report indicates that sex selection is compared to playing with God. Such arguments have been applied to all medical innovation before. It started by rejecting the use of chloroform to relieve pain associated with childbirth, this act was viewed as going against God’s will this also applied to the use of inoculation (Li & Pantano, 2013).  Ironically, previous medical innovations viewed as going against God’s will have become part of acceptable medical practices, therefore such objections have not been taken seriously, such arguments are considered as religious claims .Proponents of sex selection argue that individuals seeking the option of sex selection should only refrain from the idea if it contravenes his religious beliefs but laws should not be imposed on people based of religious views (Dondorp et al, 2013).

Human dignity that can be jeopardized by actions arising from this perspective

Defining human dignity based on our expression of choices affects public opinion about such ideas. If these perspectives are not comprehensively analyzed by research public opinion will be flawed. The main concern is that people can use limited philosophical analysis to influence policy discussions .The definition of human dignity should not be derived from the fact that it is an individual choice but it should be to view the practice from both public and professional bioethical discussions as recommended by Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine(2015).


Human dignity as a societal inherent value

The second perspective, society often values the inherent worth of children this limits some of the choices parents should make regarding gender selection. Parents who consider gender selection are viewed as not upholding societal norms and values which is the society description for human dignity. Parents who choose the sex of their children because of non-medical reasons are considered to be immoral in the eyes of the society according to (McGowan, & Sharp,2013).

Choosing particular sex over the other for non-medical reasons places expectations on a specific child, this fails to recognize individual personhood. Therefore, sex selection fails to accept individual inherent characteristics .Children are viewed as parents property yet they are their own person .Putting too much expectations on the selected children does not give them the respect making them not to be autonomous as human beings are suppose to be(Claassens, Swartz & Hansen, 2013). Parents who select the sex of their children view their children as a different person not as the individual the child is suppose to be. Wudarczyk, Earp, Guastella & Savulescu(2013) argues that choosing the sex of a child is failing to respect the human intrinsic values of the individual child.

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Social attitudes, norms and circumstances that influence such perspective

In western societies, there is no preferred sex but selection of sex is more of creating gender balance in the family by having both boys and girls. These are common occurrence observed in Australia, Sweden and the UK .Even though sex selection does not have negative effects in these countries, Asian countries like China, Korea and India are faced with challenges associated with sex selection. These countries prefer boys to girls resulting more than 10 million abortions within the last 20 years (Blyth, Frith and Crawshaw,2008).

Activists in Asia are calling for the ban of sex selection, however, due to the different reasons parents in the UK and India have for choosing the sex of their children, banning worldwide practice of sex selection will not change the situation especially in India. So long as there religious and economic incentives attached to boys, banning sex selection will not have any effect especially in Asian countries. Given the fact that majority of UK population would still prefer their first children to be boys, sex selection technology will be misused to fulfill these parents’ desires (Dyal, 2014).

Justification of specific actions in relation to human dignity

The claims made that sex selection does not promote the inherent human value is considered as an intuitive reaction but not a reasonable moral response. The fact that certain human actions are unnatural does not necessary makes these actions morally wrong. For example heart transplant is unnatural but is meant to save human life (De Melo-Martin, 2013).  The fact that those opposed to the claims that sex selection should be applicable for medical purposes is not considerate. Medical technologies helps couples with sex-linked genetic disorder produce a healthy child, this does not translate to misuse of technology to fulfill their personal desires according to Tregenza-Parker(2013).

In the current health care systems, physicians offer services that do not have direct medical benefits but add value to inviduals who seek for such services like cosmetic surgeries and ultrasound. The same view is applicable when it comes to sex selection. Offering sex selection services is also viewed as misuse of limited medical resources, but offering other services like face-lifts is not termed as misallocation of limited medical resources. The idea of sex selection has been misrepresented in most cases (WHO Press, 2011).

The most common argument is that is distorted claims that sex selection causes social imbalances of sexes like in India and China. The concern is whether sex ratio is a threat to the western societies is more of a intuitive reaction with not concrete evidence .The idea of calling sex selection a sexist sin is not justifiable because most parents who prefer choosing the sex of their children do so based on the fact that they are motivated by the idea to have children from both sexes. People who belief that raising a boy is different from a girl are those who base their thinking on cultural values of children whereby girls are considerate be different from boys (Cooley and  Chesnokova, 2011).

Human dignity that can be jeopardized by actions arising from this perspective

The fact that arguments against sex selection are more about their consequences, these arguments are based on assumptions therefore it’s not easy to prevent some of the consequences from happening. It is not essay to draw legal lines to permit some forms of sex selection while limiting others. The main worry in such situation is how parents are likely to spend their money on technology to ensure that their children are born with the specifications they want. This can result to misuse of technology (Lee, 2016).


It not surprising that sex selection is controversial, different people  justify their reasons for gender selection viewing it as a desirable practice to full fill societal norms. Others view sex selection as a practice that reinforces discrimination at the same time go against the inherent nature of human value .These two perspective can describe human dignity from different views. The case study of sex selection helps us understand some of the social attitudes, norms and circumstances that can influence our choices and how sex selection from these two perspectives can  impact on our understanding of human dignity based on the justification presented  in support of such actions . In conclusion, it is important to define human dignity from a multi-dimensional perspective than define it from isolated arguments  to accurately define its meaning.

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Scully, J. L., Shakespeare, T., & Banks, S. (2006). Gift not commodity? Lay people deliberating

social sex selection. Sociology of health & illness, 28(6), 749-767.

Blyth, E., Frith, L., & Crawshaw, M. (2008). Ethical objections to sex selection for non-medical

reasons. Reproductive biomedicine online, 16, 41-45.

Kalfoglou, A. L., Kammersell, M., Philpott, S., & Dahl, E. (2013). Ethical arguments for and

against sperm sorting for non-medical sex selection: a review. Reproductive biomedicine

 online, 26(3), 231-239.

Webb, D. C. (2014). The Sex Selection Debate: A Comparative Study of Sex Selection Laws in

the United States and the United Kingdom. South Carolina Journal of International Law

 and Business, 10(1), 6.

De Melo-Martín, I. (2013). Sex selection and the procreative liberty framework. Kennedy

 Institute of Ethics Journal, 23(1), 1-18.

Dondorp, W., De Wert, G., Pennings, G., Shenfield, F., Devroey, P., Tarlatzis, B., & Diedrich,

  1. (2013). ESHRE Task Force on ethics and Law 20: sex selection for non-medical

reasons. Human Reproduction, 28(6), 1448-1454.

McGowan, M. L., & Sharp, R. R. (2013). Justice in the context of family balancing. Science,

 technology & human values, 38(2), 271-293.

Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2015). Use of

reproductive technology for sex selection for nonmedical reasons. Fertility and Sterility,

103(6), 1418-1422.

Dahl, E.(2007).The 10 Most Common Objections to Sex Selection and Why They Are Far

From Being Conclusive: A Western Perspective.”Reproductive BioMedicine Online 14,

(1) 158–61.

Wudarczyk, O. A., Earp, B. D., Guastella, A., & Savulescu, J. (2013). Could intranasal oxytocin

be used to enhance relationships? Research imperatives, clinical policy, and ethical

considerations. Current opinion in psychiatry, 26(5), 474.

Claassens, J., Swartz, L., & Hansen, L. (2013). Searching for Dignity: Conversations on human

            dignity, theology and disability. Toronto. Sun media.

De Melo-Martin, I. (2013). The Ethics of Sex Selection. Ethics and Emerging Technologies, 90.

Tregenza-Parker, G. (2013). Sex Selection for Family Balancing? A Legal and Ethical Analysis.

Blyth, E., Frith,L., and Crawshaw, M.(2008). Ethical Objections to Sex Selection for Non-           medical Purposes.” Reproductive BioMedicine Online 16, no.1 (2008): 41–45.

Dennis Cooley and Irina Chesnokova. (2011). Sex Selection Abortion in Kazakhstan:

Understanding a Cultural Justification, Developing World Bioethics 11, (3). 159–60.

WHO Press (2011). World Health Organization, Preventing Gender-biased Sex Selection: An

 Interagency Statement OHCHR, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and WHO. Geneva.

WHO Press

Mudde ,A. (2010).‘Before You Formed in the Womb I Knew You’: Sex Selection and Spaces of

Ambiguity, Hypatia 25 (3).563–64.

Dyal, M. (2014). Whether sex-selection for non-medical reasons, using pre-implantation genetic

 diagnosis, should be permitted in the UK .University of Birmingham.

Lee, M. Y. K. (2016). From the case of sex discrimination to the ideas of equality and equal

opportunities. In Ethical Dilemmas in Public Policy (pp. 111-127). Springer Singapore.


Li, Q., & Pantano, J. (2013). The Demographic Consequences of Gender Selection Technology.

 Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 95, (5): 1549–1561.

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