After a long legal and political debate leading up to a decision by its Supreme Court in 1988, Canada has ended up as one of the few nations in the world without an abortion law. About 100,000 abortion are performed each year. But now the Canadian Medical Association Journal is calling for strict limits on abortion – if the mother wants to abortion a child simply because it is a girl.
Gendercide has been imported into Canada with Asian migration. Census data show that there is an unusually high number of male births to women who are South and East Asian immigrants despite vastly improved socio-economic prospects. Most Canadians regard sex-selection as “odious”, says the CMAJ, but the practice persists.
In a ringing editorial, the CMAJ says:
“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.”
Its solution for eliminating this “repugnant practice” is “to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy”. The assumption is that almost no one would have an abortion at 30 weeks.
However, the widely-discussed proposal has been criticised on several counts. From a practical point of view, it will soon be easy for women to test the sex of their unborn child at home, with commercially-available kits. Can a doctor refuse to perform an abortion even if he suspects the patient’s motivation? He might get in legal hot water.
In fact, one of the papers on which the journal’s stand was based was more realistic. “Our [30-week] proposal, then, would not prevent sex selection. Rather, we suggest that it would permit health care providers to navigate ethically the meaningful application of the SOGC policy of not supporting sex selection while maintaining patients’ rights to full disclosure of medical information.” In other words, the 30-week rule is just a sop for doctors’ consciences.
And both pro-life and pro-choice supporters attacked the proposal as illogical. Why should doctors discourage aborting girls and acquiesce in aborting children with Down syndrome? “Either the fetus has rights or not,” said Marni Soupcoff, of the National Post. “If not, then sorry, no ‘good’ reason is necessary for an abortion. If yes, it gets complex.” ~ CMAJ, Jan 16