Proposal in Canada to conceal fetus gender sparks debate across country


Ultrasound at 28 weeks

Margaret Somerville, founding director of the McGill University Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, said sex selection through abortion is a real concern, saying the normal birth ratio is 105 boys to every 100 girls, but it can be as high as 160 boys to 100 girls in some parts of China. She also said that a study in India showed that of 7,000 abortions performed there, 6,997 were girls.

“As long as you have a culture where it’s no big deal to have an abortion, why not do it for the reason of sex selection?” she said.

Victor Wong, head of the Chinese Canadian National Council, said the editorial “racializes” the issue.

“I really dispute the idea that girls are not valued in the Asian culture,” he said in an interview. He understands that there are some “old world” ideas in the culture and said he can’t dispute that sex-selection abortion takes place, but he believes it is changing and will continue to evolve.

Article on concealing fetus gender sparks debate across country

 The article in the Montreal Gazette centered around an editorial written by a doctor urging adoption of rules prohibiting physicians from providing the sex of the baby to parents until some time into the pregnancy.

The doctor who wrote the editorial, interim CMAJ editor-in-chief Rajendra Kale, said that “female feticide happens in India and China by the millions, but it also happens in North America in numbers large enough to distort the male to female ratio in some ethnic groups.”

Delaying the information until 30 weeks, he said, makes it much more difficult to get an abortion unless there’s a medical reason.

Kale argued that studies show some couples who have two girls and no son selectively get rid of female fetuses until they can ensure their third-born child is a boy.

While this may be occurring in small numbers in Canada – perhaps a few hundred cases a year – he doesn’t believe it can be ignored.

The article also points out that many people understand they can buy a kit to chemically test for the sex of the baby, without the doctor.  So, the whole argument may be moot anyway.