Abortion to control gender

“Preventive " abortions

press to help her come to terms with the fact that she had an abortion. She just needs to accept herself and go on.——C.R.

Your moving letter is representative of many I receive on abortion.

While abortion is certainly an important question in its own right, it must at the same time be viewed in a larger context as one of a variety of measures to limit population. These include sterilization and contra- ception in all its forms.

Holding fast to the dictum that "Whatever can be done will be done," doctors are performing ever—increasing numbers of abortions in cases where amniocentesis has revealed that the sex of the soon—to—be—baby isn't quite what mom and dad had in mind. In major medical centers, as well as in hospitals throughout the country where private physicians practice, doctors have turned to amniocentesis, chorion—villus sampling, and abortions to control the gender of the child to be born. Of course, these medical centers only permit this needling of the uterus and fetal membranes ”'

in carefully selected cases," and the doctors perform abortions on children of the wrong sex "with great reluctance.“

And probably they accept their fees with similar reluctance.

Despite the inroads sexual equality has made in recent years, the age- old preferences for sons in many cultures leads me to predict that it will be primarily females who are killed, aborted, eliminated, terminated, or whatever euphemism one prefers. This is an issue that the Women's Movement would do well to consider in its concern about sex discrimination.

The ethical systems of traditional religions find this kind of action abhorrent. Even Joseph Fletcher, the father of modern situational ethics, who has condoned the withholding of life—saving surgery in mongoloid babies, is worried about this latest medical trick. However, the ethics of modern medicine, the dominant religion of our secular society, merely require that we deliberate, even "agonize," over this problem while the physician—priests continue their lethal work in the inner sanctums of the temples of medicine.

A report from the prestigious Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, appear- ing in the equally prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, has des- cribed one single family with an unusually high frequency of cancer of the kidney. Geneticists who studied this family found a defect in some of their chromosomes which they claim is responsible for the tumors. On this basis, the researchers state that amniocentesis (the drawing of fluid from membranes surrounding the fetus within the mother's uterus) will enable them to determine before birth whether future family members will be pre- disposed to having kidney cancer. While they admit that inheritance of this kind of cancer is rare and thus far only one affected family has been discovered, the doctors hypothesize that someday similar techniques will enable them to find the seeds of other kinds of cancer in the unborn.

Once these "tainted" babies are identified, abortion can be carried out.

Years ago, I became concerned when geneticists began practicing "pre- ventive medicine" by identifying and aborting infants who were presumably affected with mongolism and Tay—Sachs disease, since mistakes occurred frequently enough so that normal babies also were destroyed.

I became even more concerned when some cancer surgeons proposed pre- venting breast cancer by performing bilateral mastectomies on healthy