Wednesday, 21 October 2009

gender testing kits

found this clip from morning report yesterday (radio nz, 8.39am) about testing kits that will tell you the gender of your baby from 2 months into the pregnancy. these are seen as controversial, in that there are fears that people will choose to abort if they have the wrong gender baby. and of course, the fear is that they are more likely to abort if there is a female feotus.

when i got pregnant, i wanted to find out the gender of my baby as soon as i was able. however, i was disappointed when the specialist who was looking after me announced that she never revealed this information to parents. it really annoyed me at the time, and it still really annoys me. i wonder if a medical professional actually has the right to withhold that information. at the time, i assumed that the doctor was always right and that i had to accept whatever i was told. "patient's rights" were a concept that had never occured to me. now that i'm older and wiser (or maybe just older!), i might actually have thought about challenging her position.

as for the fear about increased abortions, if i remember correctly, someone mentioned in the clip that there was no evidence for this happening in other countries where the test was already available. and if someone really doesn't want a daughter, they'll find ways to get rid of her, whether this test is available or not. i've heard some pretty nasty stories about female infanticide which i don't feel the need to repeat here, but it certainly isn't a modern concept. not by a long shot.

the point is that if you want to stop abortion of female foetuses, you have to improve equality for women. there's no point mucking around trying to withhold technology. it's the underlying societal values which must change. otherwise all you get is people working around the ban to achieve the same thing.


katy said...

A friend of mine had her child in Japan last year and at the clinic she went to they also did not reveal the gender of foetuses (foeti??) due to concerns that this would influence the decisions of families to abort. I was really surprised and shocked to hear this, though on reflection I wonder if it is a *real* problem or an imagined one.

stargazer said...

it's definitely a real problem, not sure if it is in japan but in india and probably china it's a measurable problem. the ratio of females to males in these countries indicate millions of "missing" females.

my point is that if you want to solve this problem, you have to deal with the underlying issues. societal structures and values that result in girls being seen as a burden are what need to change, and if they don't , restriction to technology won't solve the problem. the fact is that if they aren't able to abort, some people will kill the baby after it's born.

Hugh said...

Definitely a problem in China. Worse than in India, from the statistics I've seen.

Anonymous said...

A lot of money gets spent on creating fantastic technology for the few yet so little is spent on primary health care for the masses

katy said...

stargazer, in that case it would be interesting to know if it is a real problem in Japan then as there aren't the same economic issues there as in China and India (it is a rich country with a relatively little income inequality).

Anonymous said...

what's wrong with selective termination? my body, my right to choose.