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Michelle Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Feticide shows need to reopen abortion debate

  • January 24, 2012

OTTAWA - An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warning of a distortion of the male/female balance due to sex-selection abortion in some ethnic communities shows the need to reopen the abortion debate in Canada, say pro-life groups.

In the editorial, Journal interim editor-in-chief Dr. Rajendra Kale urged the sex of a fetus be kept from pregnant women until 30 weeks gestation, when it is unlikely an abortion will be performed except for exceptional medical reasons.

“Female feticide 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 Kale.

But pro-life and pro-family organizations quickly pointed out the illogic of trying to prevent abortions based on sex when the law does not prevent women from aborting an unborn child for the sake of convenience.

“Once a society has accepted abortion as a so-called ‘right,’ tragically choosing to ignore scientific facts regarding the beginning of human life, it should be no surprise when some women, often pressured by men, request abortions for eugenic reasons, like sex selection,” said Catholic Organization for Life and Family director Michele Boulva. “Why would it be all right to abort when an unforeseen pregnancy is an impediment to a career or because the unborn child has some genetic disease, and not for sex selection?”

Boulva said the female feticide problem is another demonstration of the need for a debate on when human life begins, called for by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth.  

“That’s what it is all about: the humanity of the fetus,” said Boulva. “It is either human or it is not. If it is, the Charter of Rights should protect all unborn, male and female. There should be no place for discrimination.

“You either respect the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death, or you end up defending indefensible choices.”

The pro-family, pro-life group REAL Women of Canada came out in support of the Journal’s recommendation to regulate ultra-sound use to determine the sex of unborn children.

REAL Women said it has been “alarmed for some time about abortions based on gender” in Canada, noting that Statistics Canada identified the problem in 2006.

“The loss of females by way of sex-selection abortions devalues all women and their contributions to society in the past, present and the future,” said a Jan. 17 REAL Women news release. “The availability of such abortions can result in family pressure on women to have an abortion, which is unacceptable bullying that can traumatize such women.”

REAL Women wrote to the provincial and federal health ministers in 2006 asking them to regulate the use of ultra-sound to disclose an unborn baby’s sex prior to birth.

“Equality between the sexes and the prohibition of discrimination against females applies throughout the entire life span,” REAL Women said. “What do other rights matter if the child is not allowed to be born simply because she is of the female gender?”

LifeCanada, a national umbrella for educational pro-life groups, commissioned a poll last September that revealed 92 per cent of Canadians think sex-selection abortion should be illegal.

LifeCanada noted the Journal editorial’s role in garnering media coverage, pointing out the author called female feticide “discrimination against women at its worst.”

“We support Dr. Kale’s recommendations and congratulate him on his courage for raising the issue,” said LifeCanada executive director Natalie Hudson Sonnen. “Canadians have become increasingly concerned at the growing problem of female feticide, and support measures that could potentially, in the words of Dr. Kale, ‘save thousands of Canada’s girls.’ ”

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