Medics upset over 'gender-based' abortion
The Local · 16 Feb 2009, 15:28
Published: 16 Feb 2009 15:28 GMT+01:00
The woman in question was already mother to at least two girls when she once again became pregnant and visited a health clinic in central Sweden.
Initially, the woman requested an amniocentesis in order to allay concerns about possible chromosome abnormalities. At the same time, she also asked to know the fetus’s gender.
While there was no medical reason to go through with the amniocentesis, the procedure was nevertheless carried out.
The test revealed normal chromosome development and that the woman was carrying a girl.
Six days later, the woman requested an abortion which was subsequently carried out.
Pregnant again at a later date, the woman returned to the clinic and once again requested an amniocentesis.
This time, however, her request was denied.
One month later, the expectant mother scheduled an ultrasound screening. During the procedure she asked to be told the gender of the fetus.
The midwife carrying out the examination told the woman the fetus was a girl.
The same day, the woman scheduled an abortion, which was performed four days later.
“The above matter has given rise to strong feelings among those involved who, perhaps justifiably, believe that the patient has gone through two abortions because of [the fetus’s] gender,” writes the head of the clinic, Kaj Wedenberg, in a letter to Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
Wedenberg explains that his staff has asked him to draw up guidelines on how to handle similar requests in the future in which they “feel pressured to examine the fetus’s gender” without having a medically compelling reason to do so.
“In part, I wonder if a caregiver within the public health system has the right to make reference to their own views and the dominant view in our country about gender’s equal value, in preventing a patient, with perhaps a different valuation, from learning the gender of the fetus,” he writes.
Wedenberg adds that he wants the agency to provide additional direction on what his rights are as head doctor at the clinic to overrule other medical professionals which may have different appraisals of what sort of procedures ought to be performed for “medical, social, or psychological” reasons.