Discuss: Should Humanists oppose sex-selective abortions?

Humanists in Canada have long fought for the right for women to control their own fertility.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that East Asian immigrants in Canada are having fewer than average baby girls, suggesting that some parents may be aborting foetuses based on their gender. This has even prompted the Canadian Medical Association Journal to call for doctors to withhold the sex of a foetus until 30 weeks into a pregnancy – past the point that most physicians in Canada would perform an abortion.*

As Vancouver is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in Canada, this dilemma is especially relevant for our community. So rather than have me spout my opinions, I want you to comment here with your thoughts. Should we side with women and mothers, ensuring their right to know the sex of their foetus and their right to continue or terminate that pregnancy, or should we be trying to curb the inherit sexism of those who would abort only girls?

Obviously this issue isn’t so black and white, so I’m hoping for some though provoking answers. Our comments are moderated but we do not mean to censor. We primarily want to limit spam posts and protect the BCHA which could be held liable for anything posted here. If you have trouble commenting, please email me.

*Note: While abortion is technically legal throughout an entire pregnancy, few doctors will perform medically-unnecessary abortions after the first trimester.

Comments on: "Discuss: Should Humanists oppose sex-selective abortions?" (5)

  1. We should absolutely oppose this because this is not the same as choice.
    A woman choosing not to have children is completely different that a woman aborting female fetuses because she has either internalized misogyny or she is pressured by her husband or inlaws to abort, and thus actively participates in gender inequality, and the propagation of the idea that males are worth more than females.

    This is an instrumentalization of misogyny, the practice of not wanting female children because they are worth less. Women should have the right to choose but we should not confuse this or give in to cultural relativism where we turn a blind eye that these ideas are accepted in our community – they are not and they should not be.

    I find this particularly disgusting because we are not talking enough about it. In Surrey for example, where there is a large South Asian population, there has been discussions of violence against women in that community. But not much has been discussed with respect to the abortion of girls. I believe that this needs to start with concerned groups because I don’t expect the Mayor to open this can of worms, given that a large chunk of her voters are South Asians, including some of the traditionalists who are very much part of the problem.

  2. It would be hypocritcal to support women’s right to reproductive control EXCEPT when their choice is for a reason we don’t like.

    The solution is not to withhold medical information or services to these women but to support equality for the women already living in these cultures. Solve the underlying problems first.

  3. Angela Squires said:

    Have there been any studies as to what generation as in first, second, third generation Canadians are practising sex-selective abortion?
    “While abortion is technically legal throughout an entire pregnancy, few doctors will perform medically-unnecessary abortions after the first trimester”.
    Choice is a decision between the pregnant woman and her doctor; I imagine doctors are educating their patients in humane customs and we do have the option of censure of doctors who do not follow our humane traditions. That said, far too many girls are aborted, subject to FGM and misogynist treatment.

    • Hi Angela
      Just wondering what you mean by “humane customs” and “humane traditions”? Also, what is our option to “Censure doctors” who don’t follow them?

  4. The underlying problem is one of ignorance and inequality but there’s no short-term solution for that. While we’re solving that problem, entire generations could be skewed along gender lines just exacerbating the problem. I feel like we need controls in place while acknowledging that they’re not ideal and certainly not in line with the previously stated value for choice.

    It’s a sad truth that the problem inherent with choice is that people might exercise it poorly.

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