U.S. clinic offers sex selection service to Indo-Canadians
Published Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:57AM EDT
A fertility clinic near Seattle, Washington, appears to be trying to woo Indo-Canadian parents to its clinic with the promise they can have whatever child they want -- a boy or a girl.
The Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine in Bellevue, Wa. is running an ad in the print edition of the Indo Canadian Voice and on the newspaper's website that proclaims: "Create the family you want."
The ad features children wearing traditional Indian clothing and promises gender selection services, for "family balancing purposes."
Sex selection of embryos is illegal in Canada, except to prevent a gender-linked disorder or disease. But Dr. Albert Yuzpe, co-founder of the Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver, says the demand for such procedures persists in Canada.
He tells CTV News that it's not uncommon for couples to inquire about gender-selective in vitro fertilization at his clinic. He says some families go even further in their pursuit of a specific gender for their child.
"What has been going on for many years is that couples – and I'm not suggesting any one ethnic group – who were wanting to do gender selection would go to the U.S., have an ultrasound, have the infant's sex diagnosed and if it wasn't the sex they wanted, they would have it terminated," he told CTV British Columbia on Tuesday.
Yuzpe says it's not surprising to see U.S. companies spending their advertising dollars north of the border.
"The clinics that are advertising this are clinics that are for-profit, and so that brings in patients," he said.
The Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine's website says it can perform gender selection during in vitro fertilization using a process called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It involves performing a biopsy and a DNA test on embryos before they are implanted in the mother's womb.
The process will "virtually guarantee successful gender selection," according to the centre's website.
Raminder Dosanjh, with the India Mahila Association, is a long-time critic of gender selection in the Indo-Canadian community, but says it still persists.
"There are pockets of the community where there is a market for this," Dosanjh says.
"Somebody is trying to cash in on the belief that some sections of the Indo-Canadian community believe in having male offspring."
The ad remained on the Indo-Canadian Voice as of Tuesday afternoon, but by the evening, the paper's general manager told CTV News that the advertisement had been taken down.
The newspaper's general manager says it pulled the ads because the newspaper is sensitive to the community it operates in. But he didn't rule out running further ads from the clinic.
Calls from CTV British Columbia to the Washington clinic went unanswered.
Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, the federal agency that is charged with enforcing Canada's laws governing reproductive technologies, says it's checking into the legality of running the ad.
News of the advertisement comes just days after the release of a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that suggested that South Korean and Indian-born women in Canada have an unusually high proportion of boys born as second and third babies.
It found Indian mothers in Ontario birthed 111 boys for every 100 girls among second children, and 136 boys for every 100 girls among third children. There are normally 105 boys born for every 100 girls in Canada.
The authors of the study point out they have no way of knowing what accounts for their findings, and did not have information on pregnancy terminations among their subjects.
Earlier this year, Dr. Rajendra Kale, who was then the acting editor of the CMAJ, set off a debate with an editorial he wrote suggesting sex selection is being practised by some Canadians of Asian descent.
He suggested that in order to slow the practice, Canadians doctors should adopt policies so that they don't inform women of the sex of their fetus before 30 weeks gestation.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Nafeesa Karim