The lost girls: Knowing the gender is not medically necessary - so delay it

Wait 30 weeks before telling women the sex of their child

Share

When I wrote the editorial “‘It’s a girl!’ – could be a death sentence” in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2012 it caused a media uproar. This was expected given that the piece touched on issues such as abortion, women’s rights, foetal rights, and ethnicity.

Feminists painted themselves into a corner arguing that women had the right to abort female foetuses and reduce their own numbers. Pro-life groups were delighted to have found the Achilles heel of the pro-choice movement. Politicians dithered and refused to debate abortion in parliament. Concerned ethnic minorities agreed but worried that they had been shown in poor light.

The solution I proposed caused further debate. I suggested that the sex of the foetus should be disclosed to all women after 30 weeks of pregnancy, when an abortion is practically impossible. The sex of the foetus is medically irrelevant, except in rare instances of genetic disorders linked to X chromosomes. So why should healthcare professionals be obliged to disclose medically irrelevant information that has reduced the number of women by millions?

Ultrasound remains the most commonly used method to determine the sex of the foetus. Some have argued that women would use sex determination tests available on the internet. For ethical reasons the availability of foetal DNA tests to the public needs to be regulated and restrictions placed on laboratories.

Arguably the sex of the foetus should be withheld only from those women who are at high risk of aborting female foetuses, but how can one identify these women? Having separate disclosure rules for women who belong to certain ethnic minorities would attract accusations of discrimination. Also, many strongly oppose the practice and would be offended by such treatment. Thus we would need to withhold the sex of the baby till 30 weeks from all women.

Mothers want to know the sex of their baby as soon as possible out of curiosity and because it helps them to plan for its arrival. If they wait till 30 weeks they could save the lives of girls who would otherwise be aborted and still have enough time to decorate the nursery in pink or blue.

Dealing with the heightened curiosity of waiting for 30 weeks is a small price to pay for helping to save millions of women globally.

Britain has identified its share of this global social evil. Unfounded fears of allegations of xenophobia, indecisive politicians, turf-protecting pressure groups and greedy doctors should not be allowed to prevent its demise. These girls must be born.

The author is a neurologist in Ottawa, Canada and was formerly the interim editor-in-chief of the ‘Canadian Medical Association Journal’.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head  

London’s far too exclusive already, so don’t start charging people for the New Year’s Eve fireworks

Mary Dejevsky
So far Ebola has caused 2,600 fatalities and infected more than 5,300 people  

To stop Ebola killing thousands more, we need doctors who are willing to put their lives on the line

Peter Popham
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week