Why parents should not be told the sex of their fetus: a response to the commentaries

/ 2016 | Journal of Medical Ethics, 43 (1): 19-21 / By Tamara Kayali Browne /


Mikhalevich and Powell do not believe that the disclosure of fetal sex plays into or promotes gender essentialism. Yet many people hold gender essentialist beliefs. In studies conducted thus far, parental reasons for sex determination or sex selection often conflate sex and gender and express beliefs that, for instance, a child with an XY karyotype will be naturally inclined to play sport and do ‘boyish’ things. This is why I see gender essentialism as a significant part of the disclosure problem, and not because I am myself committed to biological essentialism. Information regarding fetal sex will therefore constitute misinformation for most people. At the very least, providing such information without informing parents of the problems with gender essentialism provides gender essentialist beliefs with, as Seavilleklein and Sherwin would say, the scientific and medical veneer that perpetuates them.

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