A Proposed Ban on Revealing the Sex of a Fetus:
There’s an article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail suggesting that the medical community should not reveal the sex of a fetus until after 30 weeks when abortion is (almost) impossible to obtain. The reasoning is that there is an unreleased study suggesting that female babies are being aborted amongst Asian and South Asian immigrants.
I am not an investigative journalist so I’m not going to go into example after example of this being true or untrue, although, according to this article in the Globe and Mail many health experts agree that this is a “small but serious problem among some immigrant groups”. There have been enough news articles, documentaries, TV reports and internet news about abandoned girl babies in orphanages in China and the honor killings in Quebec to suggest a trend.
This article states that “it flies in the face of accepted standards of patient care” and “Changing deep-rooted cultural beliefs, not imposing heavy handed restrictions is key”. But changing cultural beliefs is supremely hard, especially with new Canadians.
When my mother was in the hospital after giving birth to me (having immigrated from Greece and living in Canada for about 12 years at that point) she ran into an old neighbor who expressed concern: “how does your husband feel about a daughter?” My mother replied that during her pregnancy he hoped that I would be a boy but once he laid eyes on me he declared I was the most beautiful child in the world and he was the luckiest man.
Fast forward 29 years. My mom and I took my daughter Helen to her very traditional orthodox church for the first time and an acquaintance came over to say hi when she saw us with the baby carrier.
“Congratulations”, she said “Is it a boy?”
“No,” we replied, “a little girl.”
“Oh. Well that’s alright” she said, unenthusiastically.
“You’re damn right it’s alright!” was my mother’s outraged reply, after which the woman quickly left. (PS I love it when my mom swears in church 🙂
This was tempered by another lady who said “Oh thank god it’s a girl! You have so many men in your family it’s a wonder you two don’t pee standing up!
It blows my mind a little bit that we are still dealing with this sort of attitude towards children! But it goes to show that even after many years in Canada, ideas remain ingrained. Changing cultural beliefs is not going to happen overnight, or maybe not for dozens of years, so why can’t we just change the guidelines slightly?
As for patient care, the sex of the child is in no way shape or form pertinent to pregnancy or health. You will not die if you don’t know the sex of your child. What it comes down to is convenience of the parents for choosing a name and outfitting the nursery. That’s it. Otherwise, you don’t need to know. They didn’t know for thousands of years. (FYI – I did not find out the sex of my first because I wanted to be surprised. I did for the second because my husband really wanted to know, and I wanted to prepare with some new things for the new baby.)
There may not be more than anecdotal evidence and unsubstantiated studies that suggest certain cultures will abort female fetuses but if the medical association decides to change a policy that does not have a basis in medical necessity I would support it.