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in brief: melbourne couple abort girl because they wanted a boy


A Melbourne doctor has revealed that a Victorian couple demanded an abortion because the woman was carrying a girl.

In response, obstetricians have proposed keeping a foetus’s sex a secret until it is too late to terminate the pregnancy.

Dr Mark Hobart revealed in an interview with the Sunday Herald Sun that the couple wanted a referral to an abortion clinic after discovering at 19 weeks that the unborn child was a girl, when they wanted a boy. Dr Hobart refused to give the referral, but the couple nonetheless found a specialist to end the pregnancy.

Dr Hobart defended his decision not to refer the couple to a specialist. Under Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008, if a doctor has a moral objection to a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy, they must refer her to a doctor who does not have a moral objection.

That specialist was reported to the Medical Board by Dr Hobart, but Victorian law allows doctors to terminate pregnancies up to 24 weeks. The Medical Board will not be pursuing the matter.

President of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Andrew Foote, suggested that results of chromosomal tests that reveal an embryo’s sex be kept secret until 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

‘The view among my colleagues is they’re definitely against [gender selection],’ he said.

‘But if (patients) were of a view they must have a baby of a particular sex, they could turn up at a termination clinic and say it is for social reasons.’

However, Victoria’s largest abortion provider, the Fertility Control Clinic, told a Senate inquiry that 96 per cent of abortions were performed before 12 weeks’ gestation, when it is too early to know the sex.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Michael Permezel said there was no evidence that babies were being aborted because they were the non-preferred sex.

1 May 2013: Since this article was published, it has come to light that Dr Hobart is pro-life. While this changes the way we may understand his approach to this couple and his reasons for going public, the issue of gender selection is still worthy of discussion. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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What do you think, Lipsters? Should the sex of an embryo be kept a secret until 20 weeks? Have your say below.

7 thoughts on “in brief: melbourne couple abort girl because they wanted a boy

  1. It certainly isn’t the nicest thing to happen and it certainly isn’t the nicest reasoning, but it’s still her body. We live in the twenty-first century. If a woman isn’t happy with the offspring her body produces, she’s allowed to terminate it.

    I wouldn’t encourage it from anyone, but that doesn’t mean I’d discourage it. Leave them to their lives, I say. I’m sure the specialist warned her of any potential risks and all that, and they sound like they went into it eyes wide open. Good for them.

  2. From crikey: A doctor who made stunning claims about gender-based abortion on the front pages of News Limited’s Sunday tabloids has been outed as a former Democratic Labor Party candidate who believes all abortions are “murder”.

  3. I really don’t think this is a problem. I’m pregnant and it’s extremely uncomfortable, at times very painful, emotional and also potentially dangerous. I feel constantly vulnerable and while my pregnancy is much wanted, if someone felt that theirs was not (for ANY reason), that is their choice.

    I think the problem with the abortion debate is that it has always been framed in the “pro-lifer’s” terms. I think they should be relabelled as “anti-abortion” – I’m not anti-life because I believe in freedom of choice. Nor am I “pro-abortion” – I’ve never had one myself and I don’t go around advocating them for everyone. I just think people should be allowed to make their own decisions about their reproduction, particularly now that I understand how disruptive pregnancy can be (let alone actually having and keeping a child).

    I think we need to reframe the conversation about abortion. Termination of pregnancy is a medical procedure. Termination in the first trimester is not “killing a child”, it is bringing on a miscarriage. At that stage your “baby” is the size of an almond. It’s a foetus, not a child. Life that cannot survive without parasiting itself off another being is not “alive”, in the way that anti-abortionists try to pretend it is. And foetuses are parasitic – that’s how they work. One in three pregnancies end in miscarriage before the first trimester is up. When that happens, doctors say that it’s for the best because the pregnancy was probably not viable anyway.

    Naturally, in light of the fact that the doctor in this case was also anti-abortion, there are also murky questions thrown up – anti-abortionists always try to manipulate the conversation so that ordinary people might come round to their agenda. Maybe most people support a women’s right to choose – but do they support the right to choose based on the sex?..

  4. Of course there are legitimate reasons to have an abortion, but the baby’s sex should not be one of them. Whether or not this doctor was pro-life in all cases matters little if the parents really were seeking an abortion solely because of the sex of the child. In countries where babies are aborted because of their sex we find a disproportionate amount of male babies being born (India, Pakistan, China, etc.) When given the choice, more people choose boys. THAT is the sinister truth. It’s one of the most horrible facts about the world and I think that any effort to abort a foetus because it is a girl is the essence of misogyny and should be illegal if we’re to live in a world that takes female equality seriously.

  5. Pingback: Welcome to Monday ~ 6 May 2013 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism

  6. Pingback: the rise of 'prenatal feminism' | lip magazine

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