We can wait to find out the sex of our babies
By Aleta Fera
There’s a lot I don’t know about parenting. There are many opinions I hold that I won’t bother you with, because we’re all fighting the same battle, and we all approach it differently. But there’s one thing I know for sure: you don’t need to know the sex of your child before it’s born.
I didn’t find out the gender with my first pregnancy 9 years ago, and our choice, though in the minority, seemed at least reasonable to others. When I didn’t find out the sex of my baby last year, it seemed like I was the only one abstaining. At the time it didn’t bother me, as I take a perverse pride in going down the road less travelled just for the bragging rights. But as I had conversation after conversation with my inlaws, I began to understand that this choice was no longer normal for women in Canada.
And that’s a shame. Not knowing the gender of your unborn baby gives you an extra jolt of excitement when they finally emerge, waxy and grumpy. Not knowing lets you enjoy the attentions of various babushkas, nonas and yayas, all eager to use folk wisdom to figure out your baby’s sex. Not knowing lets you explore the exciting world of green, yellow and orange clothing. Not knowing means you can have a few more fights about names with your partner.
This week Conservative MP Mark Warwa tried to introduce a private member’s bill that would condemn sex-selective abortion, a practice which overwhelmingly targets female fetuses. He was told to shut up by the Prime Minister, who does not want to re-open the abortion debate on his watch. This clash has led to a lot of conversation about free speech in Parliament.
I appreciate the positions of both men: sex-selective abortion is only slightly-less horrifying than the domestic abuse that can follow having a baby girl, and having an open debate about the morality of abortion could ramp up the hatred and violence directed at abortion clinics and clients.
I also don’t like the idea of the bill, because it re-introduces the idea of “good”abortions and “bad” abortions. If we say no to gender-selective abortion, are we also saying no to abortions based on disability? What about ones based on poverty, or youth? Women need to be able to make this difficult decision without worrying about proving her case before a tribunal. Once we start squirting the toothpaste, we can’t get it back into the tube.
But there is a simple way to fix the situation, and that is to make sharing the gender of an unborn child illegal. It’s already illegal in China and India, a late attempt to stop this kind of abortion. I can think of no rational reason why we need to know, and please don’t tell me it’s so that you can decorate the nursery. It’s just one piece of information, and tremendously less important that the baby’s health and development. If we can learn to let it go, we could take the moral high-ground back from China (ouch) and protect our unborn girls. Or we could just go on fixating on blue versus pink sleepers. Whatever.