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Davis DS. A bar too high: why we should not bar parents from knowing the sex of their fetus. Journal of Medcal Ethics. 2017; 43:17-18

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Gender disappointment

02 August 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 8


George F Winter explains the meaning of gender dissappointment and why midwives need to be aware of it

In 1984, Germaine Greer observed of childbirth that it ‘has been transformed from an awesome personal and social event into a medical phenomenon’ (Greer, 1984). It is arguable that the transformation identified by Greer has been mediated by technological advances and the ethical dilemmas that can arise from their use.

For example, Browne (2017) asserts that prenatal sex determination is wrong in principle, not only because it mistakenly implies that sex is the same as gender, but also because the drawbacks of preventing parental knowledge of fetal sex ‘would be outweighed by the benefit of undermining gender essentialist beliefs which underlie sexism’ (Browne, 2017). Gender essentialism attributes fixed, intrinsic qualities to women and men. Davis (2017), however, acknowledges that sex is not a medical condition but suggests that if we accept the fetus as part of a woman's body, it would be as wrong to withhold information about the fetus as it would be to withhold information about a pregnant woman's genetic make-up.

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