Blue or Pink – does it matter, dear parent?
A typical work day in my life is replete with situations where I help couples make choices and sometimes life changing decisions. From choices of modes of delivery in one branch of my specialty, Obstetrics to best options for treatment of recently diagnosed cancer in my other branch of Gynecology, its all in a days work for me. I love my work and mostly, I feel blessed touching people’s lives and being a part of such important choices.
However there’s one issue which I am averse to and that is gender selection of the unborn baby. I am pro choice and I do MTP (Med Termination of Pregnancy) as and when the patients’ wishes fall into the ambit of the laws of our country. Personally I do not ascribe to such terminations when there is a cafeteria approach to contraceptive methods available over-the-counter in medical set ups and even in chemist shops. Having said that, I feel it is better to opt for a termination rather than bring an unwanted baby into this overcrowded world! But what I am vehemently against is the gender preference shown by certain parents/patients. In a recent article I read that in countries where it is not illegal to do gender selection Canadians prefer Girls whereas among Asian parents and especially Indian parents, only male babies are preferred.
This is one area of my profession where I firmly put my foot down and refuse to divulge the sex of the foetus to the parents even if they are my friends, family or colleagues. I find it unbearably painful to think that a parent can willfully abort their own child just because it is not the preferred sex. As a gynecologist I find abortion in itself a necessary evil that is required to be done. I would have hated to ever get it done myself and never have. The mid trimester abortions are more risky to the mother as well. I do them fairly regularly for couples with anomalous fetuses but never for selecting the sex. Its just a very firm NO. I have had acquaintances and even friends who couch it in questions like “you know, we want to decorate the nursery”, ” we have to do clothes shopping for the baby- you could help us!” But whatever the reason cited, I refuse to be part of it. To date, I’ve never disclosed the sex of the unborn child much less done a sex selection abortion.
Besides as I often tell my patienrs, isn’t the anticipation and the delicious sense of a surprise a gift in itself? Being a doctor, one of my Colleagues had offered to tell me the gender during my own pregnancy but I immediately said NO and also looked away from the screen which would have told me the “blue or pink” answer. I still relish the happiness I felt on knowing what or who it was when my children were born. After they were born!! Nature has intended us to have certain emotions which I would not trade for anything else in the world!
This is one of the steps I feel I have taken towards ensuring a gender equal demography in my own lil sphere of influence.
Besides, I also take the trouble of counselling all the women and mothers I meet against sex selection and preferring boys over girls as children. The overwhelming negativity I find towards the girl child is saddening. So I never fail to educate and sensitize women towards choosing to love and cherish the female child. Being in the profession I am in, I am in an unique position to influence and educate young couples especially young women on this very important topic. Being in the forces I’ve also been involved in Welfare activities where I used to speak to ladies in a non medical environment and I have used this unique opportunity to impress upon the ladies, the importance of being gender equal and giving equal opportunities for the girl child. We have a lot of ladies from the villages and places which still feel that no family is complete without a male heir. I have always tried to change this mindset at the grass roots – with the women themselves and quite often , succeeded as well.
So this has been my “Chhota Kadam” towards ensuring a Gender -Equal society as far as I can, one step at a time.
If not anything, I know in my own heart that I’ve done my bit towards that beautiful entity called the Girl Child.
Every drop counts, I feel and this is my contribution to that end. A tiny drop in the sea of humanity.
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