Towards an ethical policy for the prevention of fetal sex selection in Canada

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 Jan;32(1):54-57. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)34405-X.


The troubling practice of fetal sex selection has historically been considered an Asian phenomenon. However, recent evidence shows that a similar situation is emerging in North America, albeit on a smaller scale. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has firmly stated its opposition to sex selection for non-medical reasons, as well as to the use of any technology used solely for the purpose of determining fetal sex. However, because fetal sex may be disclosed to the parents at the time of ultrasound examination if they request this information, guidance for health care professionals to assist in discouraging fetal sex selection would be useful. Because no declaration of motives or reasons is required when a woman seeks a termination of pregnancy, we suggest that health care professionals need not disclose the sex of a fetus until it has reached a gestational age at which abortion for non-medical purposes would not be possible. This proposal would facilitate consistency between clinical practice and the values of Canadian citizens, the SOGC, the Canadian Medical Association, and other professional organizations, while still respecting current laws pertaining to disclosure of patient information and patients' rights to autonomous decision-making.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Canada
  • Disclosure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Obstetrics / ethics*
  • Patient Access to Records / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Rights / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Determination Analysis
  • Sex Preselection / ethics*
  • Societies, Medical
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal