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Press Release: Canadian Students Raise Awareness on Sex-Selection

Press Release


 TORONTO, ON (March 12 2013) – This semester, university students across Canada are raising awareness about sex-selection through the DefendGirls campaign, brought to campuses through National Campus Life Network (NCLN). Through resources, activities and events, including the screening of the award winning documentary ‘It’s a Girl’, thousands of students are being reached with the message that “’It’s a girl’ should not be a death sentence”.  This week, events in BC will also feature MP Mark Warawa speaking about Motion 408 following screenings of the documentary.

 “The goal is to raise awareness on campus as well as to build support for the condemnation of this practice by the Canadian parliament,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of NCLN, which has coordinated the efforts of these students and produced the resources being distributed. 

 Although sex-selective abortion has garnered attention because of the severe sex ratio imbalances in China and India, recent evidence has shown that the practice is occurring in Canada as well.  A 2012 CBC investigation found that many ultrasound clinics will disclose preborn children’s sex early on, knowing that sex-selective abortion may be procured as a result.[1]  Research has also demonstrated that there are sex ratio discrepancies in certain Canadian communities.[2]

 “This is an issue that resonates with the youth,” comments Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator of NCLN.  “Gender equality is an important value to Canadians and sex-selection is completely opposed to that value. We are pleased to see students taking up this campaign with so much enthusiasm.”

 Along with 17 screenings of the ‘It’s a Girl’ documentary, thousands of DefendGirls info cards and drop cards have been distributed and thousands more will be in the weeks to come.  Laptop stickers and t-shirts have been used to increase awareness on campus; the message has also reached thousands more via social media campaigns on Facebook

 “Killing girls because of their gender really is the ultimate war on women,” continues Richmond.  “By bringing this campaign and the documentary to campus we hope to move students to defend girls at all stages of life. ‘It’s a girl’ should not be a death sentence.”


More information on these resources, produced by National Campus Life Network, can be found at: www.ncln.ca/resources/defendgirls

 For a listing of ‘It’s a Girl’ screenings, please visit: www.ncln.ca/blog/defendgirlsoncampus

 For further comment please contact:

 Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of the National Campus Life Network, director@ncln.ca, 416 388 0461.

 Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator of the National Campus Life Network,westerncanada@ncln.ca, 604 365 3484.


 1CBC, “Fetal gender testing offered at private clinics,” June 12 2012, <www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/06/12/ultrasound-gender-testing.html>.

 2 Dr. Rajendra Kale, “ ‘It’s a girl!’ – could be a death sentence.”Canadian Medical Association Journal March 6, 2012 vol. 184 no. 4. First published January 16, 2012, <www.cmaj.ca/content/184/4/387.full?sid=9e06cf2c-765f-46b6-a23d-ce829ad37c79>.

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U of G Life Choice: Women’s Rights vs. Women’s Rights

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by Hanna. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

In Canada, it is legal to get an abortion through all nine months of pregnancy – no questions asked. Women might seek abortions because they don’t feel ready to have a child, because they can’t support one financially, or because they did not intend to get pregnant. Or they might seek an abortion because they’ve found out that their unborn child is a girl.
In India and China, sex-selective abortion is extremely common. In most countries around the world, the ratio of girls to boys is approximately 1:1, but in some areas of India it has dropped to around 700 girls for every 1000 boys born (according to the organization ‘Save Girl Child‘ in India). This may come from a cultural preference for sons, the effects of which are more dramatic in countries with a restriction on the number of children a couple can have. Because of this discrimination in the womb, ten million girls have ‘gone missing’ in India alone over the last twenty years, according to Save Girl Child. This trend is not limited to India and China, though; it happens in our own backyard as well, as reported in a recent editorial in the Candian Medical Association Journal.
It seems inevitable that in a country with no restrictions on abortion, we would eventually run into these sorts of moral quandaries. If the idea of aborting girls en masse to satisfy misogynystic cultural leanings gives our collective consciences a twinge, what about fetuses with disabilities? Studies in the UK show that up to 90% of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted.  In 2009 alone, “2,085 abortions were [due to the] risk that the child would be born handicapped” in Britain, according to the Department of Health; this includes children with correctible disorders such as cleft palate and club foot. When our culture accepts as normal the act of aborting a child who has physical imperfections, then anyone who is less than perfect should start to feel lucky that they made it out of the womb.
Where do we draw the line? Where does the free exercise of one’s ‘right’ to abortion become outright discrimination against women and the disabled? The idea of freedom of choice is being used to prevent women’s lives from starting; your right to choose is in direct conflict with another girl’s right to life. If sex-selective abortion, and the idea of ending someone’s life just because they have a disability, strikes you as an inexcusable brutality incongruous with our culture of equality, then we have to ask ourselves how we can protect unborn children from this type of discrimination. Then we’re faced with an even bigger question: if unborn children have a right to a discrimination-free chance at life, what other rights might they also have?

- Hanna Barlow

[As seen in the Opinion section of The Ontarion, Feburary 16, 2012.]

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.