As the 2012 Election cycle heats up, abortion remains a relevant issue for debate among many conservative candidates. One Canadian doctor, however, has a unique perspective on the hot button issue: the sex of a fetus should not be released until 30 weeks to avoid sex selective abortions.
Women in the U.S. currently receive an ultrasound between the first 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy to examine the fetus for abnormalities. In certain ethnic groups in the U.S. and Canada, Dr. Rajendra Kale, interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, indicates that because families can discover the sex of their child early in pregnancies, selective abortions occur that target female fetuses. For example, couples with a daughter may abort another daughter if they had hoped to have a son as their second child.
A pregnant woman being told the sex of the fetus at ultrasonography at a time when an unquestioned abortion is possible is the starting point of female feticide from a health-care perspective, writes Kale.
Kale believes physicians in Canada and the U.S. should adopt policies that limit the information released about the sex of unborn fetuses to after 30 weeks.
According to a study found in the Indo-Canadian community in Canada, the ratio of male to female births were significantly slanted, specifically with families where there were already two girls.
So clearly female feticide is happening, especially at the time of the third child, Kale argued in CMAJ.
Sex selection is widely thought of as unethical in the medical community. However, withholding information from parents is also unethical and Kale's call has been met with questions in the medical community.
[The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada] feels strongly that it is the cultural values and norms in specific segments of the Canadian population that must change to ensure that females are not confronted with procedures and intolerant environments before or after they are born, the association said in an email to CBC.
Kale, however, believes that the sex of a fetus is not essential information as it does not indicate the health of the pregnant mother or unborn child. The only time Kale finds the sex is relevant for the mother would be in the question of a sex-linked disease.
Sex-selective abortions are common in parts of China, India, Pakistan, Korea and Taiwan. A 2005 study found that more than 90 million young females went missing from the expected population in these regions and it is believed that sex-selective abortions played a significant role in the slanted numbers.