Canada has become “a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons” because of the country’s advanced prenatal testing and easy access to abortion.
Outrage over the growing trend of female feticide in Canada is certainly understandable but unless our politicians are willing to deal with the abortion issue, our nation will continue to permit this gender based racism. Is this the kind of Canada we want?
See National Post article below:
Keep sex of fetuses a secret to prevent selective abortion of girls: journal
Agence France-Presse Jan 16, 2012
While few studies have been done to assess how frequent the practice may be among immigrant communities in Canada, and editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal points to research that suggests sex-selection is more common among immigrants from India, China, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines who already have at least one daughter.
By Michel Viatteau
MONTREAL • An editorial in a major Canadian medical journal Monday urges doctors to conceal the gender of a fetus from all pregnant women until 30 weeks to prevent sex-selective abortion by Asian immigrants.
A separate article in the same issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal warns that Canada has become “a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons” because of the country’s advanced prenatal testing and easy access to abortion.
“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,” said the editorial by interim editor-in-chief Rajendra Kale.
While few studies have been done to assess how frequent the practice may be among immigrant communities in Canada, the editorial points to research that suggests sex-selection is more common among immigrants from India, China, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines who already have at least one daughter.
It cites U.S. census data from 2000 that shows male-biased sex ratios among U.S.-born children of Asian parents, and a study of 65 Indian women in the United States from 2004-2009 that showed 89% of them terminated pregnancies with female fetuses.
Dr. Kale said in an interview he believes that several hundred sex-selective abortions take place in Canada each year.
“Should female feticide in Canada be ignored because it is a small problem localized to minority ethnic groups? No,” said the editorial written by Dr. Kale, a Mumbai-born neurologist.
“The solution is to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy.”
In 2004 Canada outlawed fertility practices that would increase the likelihood that an embryo will be a certain sex, or that would identify an in-vitro embryo by sex for any reason other than to diagnose a sex-linked disorder or disease.
See ABORTION on Page A2
Dr. Kale said the Canadian medical establishment needs to go further, and make express rulings that would ban fetal sex disclosure before seven months, when it is too late for an abortion.
He added that doctors should nevertheless “avoid painting all Asians with the same broad brush and doing injustice to those who are against sex selection,” but called for collective co-operation by women of all races.
“The execution of a ‘disclose sex only after 30 weeks’ policy would require the understanding and willingness of women of all ethnicities to make a temporary compromise,” he wrote.
“Postponing the transmission of such information is a small price to pay to save thousands of girls in Canada.”
The Canadian Medical Association, the country’s largest doctors’ group with 70,000 members, stressed that editorial viewpoints are not necessarily those of the CMA.
Dr. Nahid Azad, president of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC), said if the problem is widespread the blanket policy is an effective way to combat feticide, but she added the Canadian Medical Association should undertake a study to determine where the practice is most prevalent in Canada.
“I cannot see only one organization or one specific policy would be able to tackle that,” she said. “If it’s widespread, if it’s a growing problem, then we do need to have some kind of blanket type policy for everyone. If there are pockets (where it happens), and there are particularly some provinces this is being practised, or there is good documentation or understanding … then that requires a much higher level of scrutiny.”
Dr. Shelly Ross, an obstetrician and international liaison for the FMWC, said it is not likely the policy would have any effect on the practice of feticide.
“The rules, at least in B.C., are that we don’t tell them for 20 weeks,” Dr. Ross said. “But I find that in this modern day and age, if we say, ‘No, we’re not going to tell you,’ (the patients) will go out to the private (doctor) and find out themselves.”
Dr. Kale’s controversial proposal was welcomed by conservative groups but opposed by the pro-choice advocates who warned that the debate extends much further than sex-selective abortion in minority groups.
“We would absolutely approve of such a ban,” said Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada. “Is it a right to know the gender of your child if you are going to use this information to kill it?”
Alexia Conradi, head of the pro-choice Women’s Federation of Quebec, agreed that abortive sex-selection is “unacceptable,” but questioned the motivation of those who support formal measures to prevent it.
“You have to wonder if the act of withholding information is a good thing when the matter is being raised by conservatives in the U.S. and Canada whose goal is to quietly roll back abortion rights.”
According to Jessica Arons of the left-wing Washington think-tank the Center for American Progress, the issue raises difficult questions for women’s advocates.
“Any types of restrictions on abortion are met with skepticism by the pro-choice community generally,” she said.
“A more appropriate intervention with sex-selection is to do more education, especially if we are talking about son preference, rather than seek to limit women’s choices or access to information.”
Medical ethicist Sam Packer said any proposal to curb women’s right to information would face steep opposition in the United States.
“It is a slippery slope,” said Mr. Packer, ethics chair at New York’s North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.
“To respect other people’s cultural and religious views is why we started this country,” he added.
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