When we think of pregnancy gender reveals, we think of sweet Instagram videos of bursting balloons and pastel-hued cakes, with parents cooing in delight about their little miracles.
What we don’t consider is the fact that still, in this day and age, there are people who believe a son is worth more than a daughter – so much so that they are willing terminate an otherwise healthy pregnancy.
According to a startling study reported on in The Age over the weekend, there is a new a phenomenon of “missing girls” in Australia – due to some parents aborting unborn female babies, or undergoing embryo selection overseas in order to have a son.
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“We believe that some women may be terminating pregnancies after discovering they are expecting a girl and in other cases are travelling overseas to access non-medical sex selection services through assisted reproduction,” said lead researcher Dr Kristina Edvardsson from Melbourne’s La Trobe University.
At first when I read this report, I thought: surely not.
I genuinely cannot fathom that mindset.
As a mother of girls and a friend of many, many families who have undergone fertility issues, this is difficult to wrap my head around.
I was discussing it with a friend, who used to work for a pathology provider, and she recalled receiving an email from a patient last year. The person asked how early the NIPT could be done, and how quickly they could get the results.
“He was very open about the fact that he already had one daughter and now that his wife was pregnant again, they wanted to know if it was another girl ASAP, so they could make arrangements to terminate,” my friend shared.
Melbourne GP Dr Gurdip Aurora told The Age a similar tale, of a pair who already had three daughters. The woman was pregnant again, and they requested a referral for an ultrasound “so they could decide whether they would have the child or not” Dr Aurora said. He refused to help them.
On reflection, I’ve been considering the complexity of the situation: on the one hand, the idea of ending a perfectly health pregnancy due to gender is appalling. On the other hand, if these types of families end up reluctantly having a girl, is that child going to be born into miserable, unloving circumstances?
I’ve always considered myself pro-choice, but I have to admit, stories like these really test my beliefs.
What do you think: should gender testing be routinely allowed from 12 weeks, or should it be limited to the 20 week-scan?