NRL News

Indian-born and South Korean-born families in Ontario more likely to abort female babies, new study shows; sex selection on the rise

by | Apr 18, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

CMA Editor Dr. Rajendra Kale

A study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal is “lending credibility to the theory that sex-selection abortion is common among immigrant communities,”  the Toronto Sun reported.

For mothers of all ethnic backgrounds the ratio of boys to girls is generally about 1.05 to 1.00  in first births. However that changed considerably for mothers who had been born in India and South Korea with their second child.

Indian-born mothers were found to have more boys to girls at a ratio of 1.11 to 1. For South Korean-born mothers, it was 1.2 to 1, according to the study.

Whereas the ratio fell back into a normal range for South Korean mothers after their second children, the study of births in Ontario found that the ratio for third-child births of Indian-born women was 136 boys to 100 girls.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal is the same journal that in a January editorial called 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.” Born and raised in India Dr. Rajendra Kale, the editor in chief, wrote,

“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.”

The new study authors wrote

“Our findings raise the possibility that couples originating from India may be more likely than Canadian-born couples to use prenatal sex determination and terminate a second or subsequent pregnancy if the fetus is female.”

The authors also “point to previous research that shows a sharp increase in the male-to-female ratio among second children in India when the first is a girl, but no similar spike for girls when the first born is a boy,” according to the Toronto Sun.

But they were cautious in drawing explicit conclusions. Indeed, Dr. Joel Ray, who led the study, went so far as to tell the Montreal Gazette, “What if Indian women, for example, had biological tendencies to lose their third pregnancy naturally … and, through some biological mechanism, lose females as fetuses more than males.”

However, the Gazette reported that Mahvish Parvez said “sex-selection through abortion is something that regularly happens among people of Indian descent in Canada, though she did not have any specific numbers,” adding, “Indian culture places significant importance on male offspring for a number of reasons,” including cost of dowries and the fact that men carry on the family name.

“Even though they know (sex selective abortions are) not right, they would go ahead and do it because of all these other reasons,” said Parvez, project co-ordinator for the Edmonton-based Indo-Canadian Women’s Association, which discourages such practices among Indian immigrants.

Pro-abortion organizations trashed Dr. Kale for his editorial.

“People have the right to knowledge and they should be treated like responsible adults, and can decide for themselves what to do with information like that,” Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, said in January.

“We’re pro-choice not because we love abortion, but because women have the right to decide what’s best for their own lives for their own reasons, and we don’t have to agree with those reasons.”