Canadian medical professionals are calling for an end of the commercial use of ultrasound for determining the sex of a foetus.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists have issued a joint statement calling for an end to non-medical clinics offering the ultrasound service.
The updated policy statement comes in conjunction with the proliferation of commercial clinics offering the service for the first trimester of pregnancy when elective abortions are still possible. This raises concerns that parents are using the tests to determine the sex of the foetus early and have it aborted if it is a girl.
During the Conservative Party’s convention in November last year, the ruling government condemned gender-selection abortions.
Doctors have also been strongly advised not to reveal the sex of a foetus before 30 weeks of pregnancy, when an “unquestioned” abortion is not permitted. However commercial clinics are not so restrained.
An article in February 2012 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) quotes Kerry Bowman, a bio-ethicist at the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics in Ontario who said ,“It really works against everything we believe in Canada in terms of equality. It works against our Charter [of Rights and Freedoms],” He also said “At very least, it would be fair to ask why a couple wants to know the gender of their child … because that in itself is not directly linked to the health or well-being of the child, except in rare cases of sex-linked diseases or disorders”.
CANADA, A HAVEN FOR SEX SELECTION ABORTIONS
The article also says that easy access to abortion and advances in prenatal sex determination have combined to make Canada a haven for parents who would terminate female foetuses in favour of having sons, despite overwhelming censure of the practice,
A March editorial in the CMAJ says, “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.
POSSIBLE HARM TO FOETUS FROM HIGH ENERGY EXPOSURE
The combined statement also expresses concern that some of the ultrasounds being used by commercial operations to create keepsake videos may last as long as an hour. The medical professionals express concern that long exposure to high energy levels may cause abnormalities noting that recent animal studies have reported subtle effects on brain development.
The updated joint-policy statement by radiologists and obstetricians says, “The fetus should not be exposed to ultrasound for commercial and entertainment purposes, and it could be considered unethical to perform these scans,”