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Controversy over gender-selection advert 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A U.S. fertility clinic advertising in vitro gender selection services in a Surrey newspaper has outraged the local Indian community. (SCREEN GRAB FROM WEBSITE)

A U.S. fertility clinic advertising in vitro gender selection services in a Surrey newspaper has outraged the local Indian community. (SCREEN GRAB FROM WEBSITE)

A U.S. fertility clinic advertising in vitro gender selection services in a Surrey newspaper has outraged the local Indian community.

The Indo-Canadian Voice newspaper defended the online advertisement Tuesday and stressed it accepted the ad after confirming the Seattle-area clinic doesn't offer abortion services.

In vitro elected gender selection is illegal in Canada, but the advertisement for the Washington Centre for Reproductive Medicine service states, "Create the family you want. Boy or Girl. Pre-conception gender determination for family balancing purposes." When contacted Tuesday, Vinnie Combow, the newspaper's general manager, said it won't be removing the ad; the process of selection is legal in the U.S.

"We don't have a problem with the ads. Yes, we didn't know it's illegal in Canada until we looked it up . but they are a pro-life clinic, they don't believe in abortions," he said.

"They'll only do the procedure if the family has a girl already, then they'll help them get a boy."

Cloverdale Sikh Society's Charan Chander, however, was shocked to hear about the advert, calling it "morally wrong," and urged people not to use the service.

"Earlier in India, there's the concept that girls get married to go to other families, and boys take care of the families. That's the only reason I can see," she said.

"Whoever is going there, I don't think they know the value of a child."

Dr. Kevin M. Johnson at Bellevue-based Overlake Reproductive Health clinic referred to the process as "family balancing," and said up to 60% of clients looking for the service are from Canada.

"We don't go out advertising for it, but we do it," he said.

"(The clients) are probably more Pacific Rim Asian populations than Caucasian. There certainly is a cultural push to some extent, but I think maybe it's oversold as a reality."

Dr. Ken Walker at a Bellingham-based fertility clinic, however, said other medical professionals see the practice as unethical.

"It's not recommended for patients that just want to a have a boy or a girl."


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