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Editorial in Canadian Medical Association Says Health Professions should not reveal unborn baby’s sex until 30 weeks

by | Jan 17, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

CMA Editor Dr. Rajendra Kale

An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association by interim editor-in-chief Dr. Rajendra Kale is calling on health care professions not “to reveal the sex of the fetus to any woman before, say, 30 weeks of pregnancy because such information is medically irrelevant and in some cases harmful.”

Kale, who was born and raised in India, tackles directly those who are skeptical “female feticide” is occurring in Canada and the United States, or who believe it is too small a problem to bother with. He writes

“Female feticide happens in India and China by the millions, but also happens in North America in numbers large enough to distort the male to female ratio in some ethnic groups. Should female feticide in Canada be ignored because it is a small problem localized to minority ethnic groups? No. Small numbers cannot be ignored when the issue is about discrimination against women in its most extreme form. This evil devalues women.”

Kale cites studies in both Canada and (a smaller one) in the United States to document his argument that sex-selective abortion has reached North America.

Based on a 2009 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the strongest evidence for this of sex-selection is by people from India, China, Korean, Vietnam, and Philippines.

“What this means is that many couples who have two daughters and no son selectively get rid of female fetuses until they can ensure that their third-born child is a boy,” Kale writes. The editorial also highlights a recent U.S. study involving a small sample of 65 women of Indian descent and a “male-biased sex ratios among US-born children of Asian parents in the 2000 census” as evidence sex-selective abortions are occurring in the United States.

Why 30 weeks? At that juncture “an unquestioned abortion is all but impossible,” Kale writes. “Postponing the time when such information is provided is a reasonable ethical compromise. It would still allow prospective parents enough time to prepare the nursery.”

A story by Derek Abma and Robert Hiltz ended by asking Kale “if he expected his editorial to garner a negative reaction from pro-choice and women’s rights advocates.”

Kale replied that female feticide is “the worst form of discrimination against women. . . . They’re saying (to women), ‘we don’t want you,’ and that’s extreme.”

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