OTTAWA, January 17, 2012 ( – Canada should prohibit disclosure of the sex of an unborn child until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy to combat female feticide, a practice that is widespread in many Asian countries and is becoming common in some ethnic groups in North America, argues an editorial in the January 16 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal by interim editor-in-chief Dr. Rajendra Kale.

“Some readers might be skeptical about whether female feticide is in fact taking place in Canada and the United States,” says Dr. Kale in his article titled “‘It’s a girl!’— could be a death sentence.” However, he goes on to observe, “research in Canada has found the strongest evidence of sex selection at higher parities if previous children were girls among Asians — that is people from India, China, Korea, 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,” Dr. Kale writes.

Dr. Kale notes, “Female feticide happens in India and China by the millions,” which has caused such a critical gender imbalance in some regions that sex slavery and even “wife sharing” have become grave problems.


“Should female feticide in Canada be ignored because it is a small problem localized to minority ethnic groups?” Dr. Kale asks.

“No,” he rejoins, pointing out that sex-selective abortion is “discrimination against women in its 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 after about 30 weeks of pregnancy.”

“A pregnant woman 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,” Dr. Kale explains. “Therefore, doctors should be allowed to disclose this information only after about 30 weeks of pregnancy — in other words, when an unquestioned abortion is all but impossible.”

This, however, would not necessarily stop sex-selective abortion of girls, due Canada’s total lack of abortion law, which means that a woman can legally abort her child right up to the moment of complete birth. However, it would likely be considerably more difficult to find a willing abortionist that late in pregnancy.

Dr. Kale suggests, as a compromise to the lack of regulative legislation, that the provincial colleges that regulate physicians should establish rules stating that revealing the gender of an unborn child before 30 weeks gestation should be considered contrary to good medical practice.

“Such information is medically irrelevant and in some instances harmful,” he said.

Dr. Kale says guidelines directing doctors to discourage sex-selective abortion are already in place in several provinces, but they “do little more than provide lip service to tackling female feticide.”

Dr. Kale concludes that although the problem of female feticide in Canada is small, Canadian doctors now have the opportunity to lead the way in stopping this “evil [that] devalues women.”

“Postponing the transmission of such information is a small price to pay to save thousands of girls in Canada. 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?”

The full text of Dr. Kale’s article is available for download here.

Contact information:

Canadian Medical Association Journal
Dr.Rajendra Kale, Interim Editor-in-Chief
Leesa D. Sullivan, Managing Editor
1867 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1G 5W8
Phone: 613-520-7116 or 866-971-9171
Fax: 613 565-5471
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]


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