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View the published story here:

http://www.reportageonline.com/2009/05/too-soon-to-tell-family-planners-defend-gender-test/

By GEMMA WOLK

Family Planning NSW has argued that a new home gender test for pregnant women may help decrease the risk of child abuse.

IntelliGender, a new home testing kit, became available in Australia last Sunday and is a product used to determine the gender of an unborn child as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy. The test has so far been slandered for the possibility of an increase in abortion rate based purely on the unborn child’s’ gender.

Researchers have claimed the new test may help to prohibit the mistreatment of a child based on the parents’ resentment of the child’s gender.

Director of Research at Family Planning NSW, Dr Edith Weisberg said: “I would be worried about how they [parents] would treat a child of the wrong sex… Especially in societies where male gender is given preference over female or vice versa, it may help solve mistreatment problems”

Professor and Research Supervisor specialising in Children’s Welfare for University of Sydney, Dr Judith Cashmore said: “There may be some future advantages to the product due to unexpected outcomes. It may well have the positive effect of better treatment toward a child if they are the parents’ desired gender.”

The Crimes Act 1900 states that ‘In NSW, an abortion is only lawful if the woman’s doctor believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health’. It remains up to the doctor involved to determine what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds’.

Executive Officer for Women’s Health NSW Denele Crozier said: “Technically there is no law that says you cannot abort based on gender. If the gender of the child is causing distress that will affect her [the mother’s] mental health, then abortion on those grounds is an option.”

The Department of Community Services said: “There is no way we can specifically assess if a child abuse case is purely based on the gender of the child,” meaning there can be no study made in the future to ascertain if the product has helped decrease gender based abuse.

Abortion services are available for up to 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, which means an expectant mother can purchase IntelliGender early in the pregnancy, determine the sex of the child at home and still have the option of termination.

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