According to a report in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), pregnant women should not be told the sex of their unborn child until after 30 weeks of pregnancy, in order to combat female feticide, which some individuals in certain ethnic groups in Canada and the U.S. practice.

Female feticide is the decision to terminate a pregnancy based on the grounds that the sex is female. Female feticide is practiced in many countries in Asia including China, Vietnam, India and Korea, although some immigrants in Canada also practice female feticide, contributing to a small, but repugnant problem.

Dr. Rajendra Kale, interim Editor-in-Chief, CMAJ, explains:

“Small numbers cannot be ignored when the issue is about discrimination against women in the most extreme form. This evil devalues women. How can it be curbed? The solution is to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until they are about 30 weeks of pregnancy.

A pregnant women 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. Although a women has the right to information about herself that relates to her health and medical care, the sex of the fetus is medically irrelevant information (except when managing rare sex-linked illnesses) and does not affect care.”

In certain ethnic groups, couples who have two daughters and no son decided to terminate female fetuses until they conceive a male child, according to research in Canada. In the U.S., a small study of 65 immigrant Indian women revealed that 40% previously terminated pregnancies with female fetuses, and 89% of women carrying a female fetus aborted their current pregnancies.

Dr. Kale states that the provincial colleges governing physicians should adopt policies that limit women finding out the sex of their unborn child until at least 30 weeks of pregnancy.

Dr. Kale concluded:

“Compared with the situation in India and China, the problem of female feticide in Canada is small, circumscribed and manageable. If Canada cannot control this repugnant practice, what hope do India and China have of saving millions of women?”

Written By Grace Rattue