Gender selective abortion in Australia

Gender selective abortion in Australia

"We need to know the sex. If it’s a girl we are going to terminate it", is the title of an article I came across on WAtoday.com.au,  this week. 

A recent research report completed by La Trobe University in Melbourne found that when analysing almost 1.2 million births between 1999 and 2015, it was found that while the overall ratio of male and female babies born across Victoria was as expected (at close to 105 to 100), there were notable exceptions.

The university study suggested that some parents could be aborting unborn female babies or undergoing embryo selection overseas in order to have a son.

When you compare the Australian numbers to China where there is about 108 boys to 100 girls and India's sitting at 104 boys to 100 girls you can see how the comparison can be found. 

However it is pointed out that it is difficult to know that girls are being aborted for the opportunity for a son, as abortion providers may have no way of knowing if a woman is seeking a termination due to a gender preference. 

Currently, gender selection through IVF is banned in Australia, except in cases where a child’s gender may help avoid the transmission of a genetic abnormality or disease.

There is now widespread global access to ultrasound technology to determine the sex of a baby, and Australian parents can find out their baby’s gender from within 10 weeks with a newly-available blood test.

Sonographers too, are often asked at the 12 week scan to identify a baby's gender. While gender cannot always be identified, and if it is identified it can be inaccurate, it is placing pressure on technicians to give a best guess.

Concerns not only lie around accuracy of these guesses, but also the ethical considerations.

It has been highlighted that medical professionals should carefully consider revealing the sex of a baby during the first-trimester scan when an 'elective termination' could still be performed. 

I acknowledge that for most parents finding out the gender of their child is a most anticipated moment, and gender selection has little influence over their future decisions.

However the findings of this study are most definitely conversation provoking.