Saturday, June 01, 2013

Ultrasound Clinics Frequently Field Calls for Sex Determination: Journal La Presse

A reporter from La Presse organized an undercover operation to verify whether sex-selection abortions do take place in Canada.

Below is my summary/translation of the article by Isabelle Hachey.

A woman of Chinese descent, whom the reporter calls a "collaborator" went to a private clinic on Boulevard Taschereau on the South shore of Montreal to see if she could obtain an ultrasound at 12 weeks to determine the sex of the baby. She was offered the ultrasound, without a requisition, on the spot.

The technician who performed the ultrasound is quoted as saying:

"I can try to tell you the sex of the baby, if you want. It's possible, but it's not 100%... we're at 70% [certainty]. I cannot decide for you. All I can say is that you can do it if you want. It's feasible."

The collaborator declined the abortion, saying that she wanted to come back later with her mother. The technician warned "Yes, but you only have two more weeks. After that you can't get an abortion."

The reported interviewed the owner of another ultrasound clinic in a part of Montreal with a heavy concentration of Asian immigrants. The clinic owner said: " It's very serious. There are people who come in here saying 'I only want to know the sex', maybe twice a week. There's always someone who tries. What protects us is that you need a requisition from a doctor."

However, the collaborator had visited that same clinic, incognito, and the receptionis told her that yes, you do need a requisition, but can learn the sex of the baby. "Yes, at 12 weeks, you can still get an abortion, " murmurred the receptionist. [The reporter added in a footnote that the technician demanded a requisition before the ultrasound, and when confronted with the facts she said that she only "gave an idea" about the sex of the fetus because tests are not 100% reliable].

The reporter also interviewed Doreen Haddad, owner of a UCBaby franchise in Pointe-Claire. UCBaby is what is known as a "recreational ultrasound" facility that does ultrasounds purely for bonding. Ms. Haddad adheres to the policy of UCBaby of this Canadian chain, which will not do ultrasounds before 20 weeks.

She says "Some women call me up begging. They absolutely want to know. When I ask them why, they answer that their husband wants to know the sex of the baby."   Also: "Women call me at 12 or 13 weeks. At that stage, the baby is so small, even doctors get be mistaken."
A week before, the collaborator had gone to UCBaby. Ms. Haddad took her aside to try to convince her to not have an abortion if she had a girl. "I ask that you resist your family, your culture and to make your own decision, " she begged her.

Ms. Haddad's own daughter was assassinated by her spouse in 2004. Kelly-Anne Drummond was 24 years old. Since then, she gives talks on domestic violence. "For me it's no difference. The women who call me are under pressure. They are harrassed by their husbands to undergo an abortion. This is abuse against women."

If this phenomenon exists, it's because a certain number of clinicians close their eyes to it, that is, they try not to understand [i.e. pretend not to understand], said C├ęcile Rousseau, child psychiatrist at the CSSS de la Montagne [Nb: CSSS=health board]. According to her, ultrasound and abortion staff should be sensitized to sex-selection, a phenomenon that was born of the shock of new technologies and the traditional preference for boys in certain cultures. 'Abortion should never be a mechanical gesture.'[i.e. done without pause for reflexion, determining what one really wants.]