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Posts Tagged ‘gender selection’

Is gender selection wrong?

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 10, 2012

An editorial in a major Canadian journal urges doctors to conceal the gender of a fetus from all pregnant women until 30 weeks to prevent sex-selective abortion by Asian immigrants.

“Female infanticide happens in India and China by the millions, but it also happens in North America in numbers large enough to distort the male to female ratio in some ethnic groups,” said the editorial by interim editor-in-chief Rajendra Kale.
The article published int he Canadian Medical Association Journal cites US census data from 2000 that shows male-biased sex ratios among US-born children of Asian parents, and a study of 65 Indian women in the US from 2004-2009 that showed 89 percent of them terminated pregnancies with female fetuses. That strikes me as an extremely small sample size, I mean how many “Asian” women got pregnant between 2004 till 2009…millions I suspect; 65 people seems easily prone to ‘outlier’ effect. But, that is not important to this post. I am more interesting in the general question – is gender selection wrong?

Canada in 2004 outlawed fertility practices that would increase the likelihood that an embryo will be a certain sex, or that would identify an in-vitro embryo by sex for any reason other than to diagnose a sex-linked disorder or disease Kale said the Canadian medical establishment needs to go further, and make express rulings that would ban fetal sex disclosure before seven months, when it is too late for an abortion.

Alexia Conradi, head of the pro-choice Women’s Federation of Quebec, agreed that abortive sex-selection is “unacceptable,” but questioned the motivation of those who support formal measures to prevent it.
“Any types of restrictions on abortion are met with skepticism by the pro-choice community generally,” she said. “A more appropriate intervention with sex-selection is to do more education, especially if we are talking about son preference, rather than seek to limit women’s choices or access to information.”

Okay, I understand that pro-choice people would be suspicion of any attempt to limit abortion; but the fact remains abortion IS legal in this country…more specifically, it is seen as a medical condition and a matter between patient and doctor.

So, my question is; if abortion is legal then why is gender selection wrong. I grant there is a ‘smell-test’ failure here; I feel it’s wrong but I fail to see the stronger argument why? Some will argue it is discriminatory against women. And that would be true if it’s a ‘post-birth’ child; however the argument that justifies abortion is that although we may say a fetus is a potential person it is NOT actually a person…so the argument saying it is discrimination against women seems to fail because in the say way it is NOT actually a women.

Now some have argued that although technically it’s not a ‘crime’ against the female fetus instead the practice propagates in society a devaluing of women in general…that if female fetus’ were deemed disposable that mentality will pollute the general culture and women (real women) will be devalued. That it is the secondary effect that must be prevented and thus limiting women’s right to choose…their right to even know the gender…should be abridged.

I am also uncomfortable with the fact that this seems close to legislating morality. We atheist often criticize and condemn the religious types for trying to legislate morality (such as banning same-sex marriage) but how is this different? One could argue that its like racism or the civil rights movement of the 60’s; but gender selection is not a major issue in Canada as a whole and the law would apply to everyone. Racism was (and still is) a institutional and ingrained aspect of our society requiring legislation of morality because it was so lacking in the society…I don’t see the parallel, maybe its appropriate for India or China where these are systemic and major issues.

If we accept this legislation, it will of course have secondary effects. We are saying that women cannot be trusted with this power over their own bodies…does this not also devalue women? I am unsure where I stand on this. I accept it has a bad smell to it and yet i think I cannot morally or logically say I think gender selection, in itself, is wrong although I trust myself not to fall into the traditional conservative mentality that would make me wish to abort a daughter and would advise my friend likewise.

Your thoughts?


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