Canadian foetal gender

2008-02-06

According to the in-flight magazine, in Canada it is illegal for a doctor to disclose the gender of a foetus (to the woman bearing it, or anyone else) until the foetus is 24 weeks into term. Naturally there are walk-in clinics in California and Washington that are prepared to do the ultrasound gender determination for a reasonable fee.

Will they make it illegal to travel to another country in order to access medical facilities that are unavailable indigenously? And illegal to own and operate an OB ultrasound machine (Tom Cruise did it, but then there was a bill before senate to make it illegal; I got bored of following the trail)?

The ultrasound operator knows the gender. How is it ethical to withhold this information from the patient?

The other thing I learned on the plane is that people used to terminate pregnancies using slippery elm bark. Slippery elm bark cannot be sold in the UK.

I find myself wholly unequipped (quite possibly in a physical as well as a mental sense) to think about these issues.

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4 Responses to “Canadian foetal gender”

  1. Clive Says:

    Ah, but is it illegal for someone to write a website that says how to determine the gender of a foetus from an ultrasound image? Is it illegal for a woman in Canada to read such a site? Is it illegal for the ultrasound operator to let a pregnant woman see the ultrasound images of the foetus?

    I sense a workaround, here…

    I assume the law is there to try and avoid people exercising gender selection, but I’d have hoped that was rather less of an issue in Canada than, say, China.

  2. Nick Barnes Says:

    Crikey, when did they make slippery elm bark illegal? Very useful for treating some conditions (other than pregnancy). ~12 years ago we bought ours at Arjuna on Mill Road.

  3. drj11 Says:

    @Clive: Apparently some communities in Canada with Indo-Canadian populations have female to male birth ratios of 93:100. In Punjab the sex ratio is 874:1000 (note: sex ratio, not live birth sex ratio). The latter article has a disturbing statistic: in 1901 the sex ratio in Punjab was 832:1000. Since this is before gender determination techniques were available, this suggests live females were being murdered.

  4. drj11 Says:

    @Nick: perhaps it’s one of those laws that is routinely unused for prosecutions. Unless someone starts recommending it for terminating pregnancy, I hope.


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