While abortions of female fetuses following ultrasound scans have been a persistent problem in countries such as India and China, recent studies have hinted that the phenomenon could also be taking place in developed countries with large populations of South Asian immigrants.
For example, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial in January that called for doctors to stop providing fetal genders to mothers until the 30th week of pregnancy. At that point, an unquestioned abortion becomes virtually impossible, according to the article.
This position was widely criticized, however, and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued a statement reaffirming its belief in the patient's right to know the gender of her child, the article states.
In the U.S., recent research presented at the annual American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) meeting in March tied the increasing availability of keepsake ultrasounds to low birth-gender ratios among some Asian groups in California.
The Toronto Star identified the six hospitals that had prohibited gender notification as William Osler Health System, North York General, Scarborough Hospital, Rouge Valley Health System, Toronto East General, and Humber River Regional Hospital. These facilities are all located near large South Asian communities.
However, hospital representatives quoted in the article dismissed their proximity as merely a coincidence, and said they have been adhering to policies in place for decades. The other 10 major hospitals in the Toronto metropolitan area continue to allow sonographers to provide gender information, according to the article.
The story comes on the heels of a study released on April 16 by St. Michael's Hospital, which found trends indicating that female feticide could be taking place in South Korean and Indian communities in Canada. The most striking finding was in Indian-born mothers with two previous children: The researchers found that the male-to-female ratio was 136 boys for every 100 girls for the third child of these mothers, the Toronto Star reported.
In comparison, the offspring of Canadian-born women have a gender ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls, according to the article.