Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida on September 9, 1973 · Page 59
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Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida · Page 59

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Panama City, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 9, 1973
Page:
Page 59
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Page 59 article text (OCR)

rrS A GIRL-ABORTION FOR SEX REASONS Mrs. S., the 38-year-old mother of a boy and two girls, told her physician she feared her child might have Down's syndrome—mongolism, which is more common among children of mothers over 3S. She asked for a relatively new test called amniocentesis, which reveals the child's condition-and its sex. Dr. L., using a needle through the abdominal wall, drew out some of the fluid surrounduig the fetus, and examined the chromosomes. "There's good news," he told Mrs. S. "Your baby won't be mongoloid." "But what sex is it?" she asked. And when she learned the baby would be a girl-she asked for an abortion. Shocked, the doctor discovered from Mrs. S. and her husband that their real concern all along had been the desire to have another boy! Aside from the ethical question of the lie to the doctor, other questions arise: Is sex determination alone a sufficient reason for undergoing the amniocentesis —a relatively safe procedure, but which carries a risk of one to two percent for the fetus? And in a male-dominated so-- ciety, what would be the effect on the boy-girl ratio if parents could select? Assuming there are some genetic diseases so severe that early detection and abortion would be morally acceptable, just what is a genetic "defect"? Is being an unwanted gender a defect? Is conceiving a child with the intent of destroying it if it's the wrong sex any different from infanticide? On the positive side, it has been argued that being able to select the sex of one's child, even by such a drastic measure, would help stow the population boom, since many "extra" babies come from attempts to beget a child of the desired sex. And those who favor free abortion for any and all reasons suggest sex determination is as good a reason as any. IS YOUR BABY A CRIMINAL? This time it was the physician who was tempted to lie. Mrs. R. was another older moUier who wanted to rule out the possibility that her baby had Down's syndrome, and the tests indeed showed the fetus to be unaffected. But the examination did turn up an extra "Y" chromosome in the baby's cells-and there is evidence that such "XYY males" may be somewhat more prone to crimes of violence than the general population. The physician's dilemma was this: Should he tell Mrs. R.? On the "no" side, he argued with himself that she had not asked him to check for the XYY syndrome-only for mongolism. And what would it do to the way she reared her son if she knew? Would she FAMILY WEEKLY, 8aptennb«r 9,1973 • 8 panic each time he threw a temper tantrum? Would she overprotect him, or damage him psychologically with her nervousness? On the "yes" side was the trust the patient places in her physician, and his obligation to honor it. And, he asked. doesn't a patient have an inherent right to know the whole truth, even if it hurts? And, pragmatically: If the boy one day was one of that small minority of XYY males who end up behind bars, could the parents sue the physician for nam withholding the truth? Eul

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