The Liberal party released their gender-based violence strategy this month. The strategy aims to address issues ranging from investigating street harassment to focusing on Indigenous women, looking at impacts on LGBT communities to studying the potentially harmful effects of social media algorithms. It seems they tried to leave no stone unturned in advancing the admirable goals of early awareness and violence prevention.
They did, however, leave one important stone unturned: sex-selective abortion. Polls indicate that about 92% of Canadians are opposed to sex-selective abortion. Yet we know it happens in Canada, and it is clearly gender-based violence to decide whether or not someone should live based on your valuation of their sex. It was great to see MP Rachael Harder question Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef on this omission.
Monsef was disappointingly quick to sidestep the issue and focus on the party line of “choice” as crucial for women. Sex-selection, though, is not a choice most Canadians agree with. Sure, we may all secretly hope one way or another for a certain sex to add to our family. Choosing to end the life of a child that doesn’t fit that hope, however, is an entirely different thing. All life is precious, and needing to design our family to the point of being willing to kill our offspring to achieve the perfect family photo is a symptom of some deeper control issues.
Sex-selective abortion is not only a form of gender-based violence, it’s also an easy one to do something about. Not many government changes can be completely effective in two little steps: end late-term abortions and do not reveal the sex of pre-born babies until abortion is off the table. Want to paint the room pink or stock up on blue crib sheets? You still can, and your baby will get to see them.
When discussing gender-based violence, we should start at the very beginning. We have incredible ultrasound technology that lets us know all kinds of things about the little people growing in their mother’s wombs. One thing we know is their sex. Let’s not use it against them.