Writing in the January 2010 edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, a pair of Canadian medical experts called for new guidelines and practices to prevent sex-selection abortions.
Dr. Brendan Leier, a bioethicist at the University of Alberta, and Dr. Allison T. Thiele, a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Saskatchewan, note that due to the widespread use of ultrasound technology and abortion, parents, “can ensure giving birth to a child of a preferred sex for medical, personal, cultural, or economic reasons.” Leier and Thiele note that in Asian countries such as China and India, cultural preferences for boys has led to “increasingly skewed” gender ratios and that recent Canadian studies illustrate the problem is replicated in Canadian communities with large numbers of Asian immigrants.
Leier and Thiele called upon “health care professionals – obstetricians, family physicians, midwives, and diagnostic imaging specialists – (to) act to discourage the practice of sex selection abortion in Canada” by refusing to tell parents the sex of the unborn child until later in pregnancy when abortions for non-medical reasons are more difficult to obtain. The authors say that doing so balances the rights of the mother with the upholding of “basic human rights.”
Officially, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is opposed to sex-selective abortion although as Leier told LifeSiteNews.com, there is “no actual mechanism in place to prevent” such abortions. The National Post reported that many British Columbia doctors have been refusing to disclose the sex of a child under 20 weeks gestation, although no body has a formal policy requiring them to withhold such information.
Leier and Thiele would exempt providing information about the sex of the child when medically relevant, such as passing on genetic problems.
Joyce Arthur, coordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, condemned the recommendations, telling the National Post, “To restrict people’s freedoms, withholding information in that way, I think is unethical and unnecessary and is not going to prevent anything … It’s a little bit paternalistic and authoritarian.”
In his interview with LifeSiteNews, Leier responded to Arthur’s comments saying, “I would have preferred that she answer the question ‘do you believe that termination should be used for sex selection’?’
Post columnist Kelly McParland wondered why anyone who supports abortion would oppose sex-selective abortion. “In order to support ‘a woman’s right to choose,’ you have to believe that a fetus is not a human being in any moral sense,” he wrote, “thus permitting abortion for any reason, or no reason at all,” with one reason as good as any other.
Calgary Herald pro-life columnist Susan Martinuk argued that it is “illogical” to maintain that abortion is about a “woman’s right to choose” and oppose the exercise of that right on the grounds of sex selection but remain silent for the myriad of other reasons women might procure an abortion.