Doctors Say Revealing Sex of Unborn Child Should Be Delayed

March 6, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. abort (v.) – to end a pregnancy causing the death of fetus, or unborn child 
Example:  Doctors aborted the pregnancy to save the mother’s life.

2. immigrant (n.) – describes a person who moves to another country to permanently stay there
Example: The immigrant became a citizen of Japan after living there for many years.

3. discrimination (n.) – the unfair treatment of an individual or a group
Example: Rejecting applicants based on their skin color is a form of discrimination.

4. linger (v.) – to remain or to stay
Example: The smell of the perfume lingers after the wearer left the room.

5. diagnostic (adj.) – in medicine, describes anything used to identify a disease
Example: The patient learned he did not have a disease after undergoing a diagnostic test.


Read the text below.

A Canadian journal says pregnant women should not be told the sex of their unborn babies until the later stage of pregnancy. This is because doctors have learned that some women are likely to have female fetuses aborted.

According to Dr. Rajendra Kale, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a small percentage of Asian immigrant parents in Canada decide to end a pregnancy after learning a fetus's sex. He says that while cases of sex-based abortions are few, the number of such abortions in North America is enough to cause an imbalance of males and females in some ethnic groups.

These abortions may also be happening because of new medical technologies, which have allowed people to learn the sex of unborn babies very early. A study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that at 7 weeks, parents can know if their baby is male or female by testing the mother’s blood.

At the same time, Canadian doctors worry that mothers will abort a pregnancy based on these technologies, which do not always correctly report fetus sex. The fear of sex selection also lingers in some doctors, who despite knowing correct test results, prefer not to share them to mothers too early.

However, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada believes doctors should not withhold the information, as parents have the right to know the sex of their babies.  The organization also says that as part of Canada’s standard of care, all results of diagnostic imaging procedures--including results that show babies’ sex--must be given to patients.

But Dr. Kale argues that a child's sex is better revealed on the 30th week of pregnancy to help prevent abortions. Even if parents learn the sex on the 30th week, they would still have enough time to prepare gender-appropriate things for the baby. Kale adds that the bigger issue, however, is stopping such extreme form of female discrimination.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 
      Is it important for parents to know all information about their unborn child? Why or why not?
      What information about an unborn child can be useful to parents?

Discussion B

      Why do you think some male babies are preferred over female babies?
      Do you think parents should give preference to one sex over the other? Why or why not


March 6, 2012