The CBC's investigative unit questioned how a family could find out the gender of a fetus in Canada in the early stages of pregnancy.

This followed a study that recently showed the third child of a family of Indian descent in Canada was more likely to be a boy than a girl.

The implication was that the practice of sex selective abortion, well documented in India and China, may be happening in Canada.

One way is through private ultrasound businesses. Many say they will not reveal the gender of a fetus until around 20 weeks into a pregnancy — at which point it becomes more difficult to have an elective abortion.

The I-unit decides to check these claims.

We visit "entertainment" ultrasound businesses in four places in Canada to find out how early a woman could learn the sex of her fetus.

Over the course of two days in late April, CBC producers visit 11 clinics in the Greater Toronto Area. Wearing a hidden camera, a CBC producer tests if private clinics are willing to do an ultrasound to determine gender 14 weeks into a pregnancy and, if not, at what stage they would do it. The majority of businesses we visit are willing to make an appointment earlier than 20 weeks, like this UC Baby clinic, which claims to have a strict policy of not revealing gender before 20 weeks.

Nine of the 11 businesses we visit in the Toronto area allow our producer to make an appointment before 20 weeks.

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However, other businesses within UC Baby, seem to be fully aware that, not only is it the policy of the company not to do ultrasounds before 20 weeks, but that early gender identification can lead to the termination of some pregnancies.

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During our research stage, a tip points us to an advertisement in a South Asian newspaper which leads us to this business in Brampton, Ont., where our producer was told she could have an ultrasound on the spot at 14 weeks of pregnancy to determine gender.

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CBC producer Sangeeta Patel is debriefed by CBC's Timothy Sawa when she leaves the Modern Non Diagnostic Imaging Centre in Brampton.

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A couple of weeks later, we equip our Vancouver-based undercover producer with hidden cameras and send her out to try the same test. We find that many, but not all, British Columbia centres are stricter about doing early ultrasounds than the businesses we visited in the Toronto area.

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Our investigation reveals another way Canadians can discover gender at an early stage of pregnancy: they cross the border. We find Koala Labs in Blaine, Wash., which is charging more than $1,500 for a gender determination ultrasound as early as 12 weeks into pregnancy. Ultrasound businesses in Vancouver seem to know about this as documented by this video.

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While doing the hidden camera work in Vancouver, we find one individual working at a UC Baby location who appears open to discussing an abortion based on gender.

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CBC producer Manjula Dufresne talks about being in UC Baby Richmond.

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We show our footage to the owner and founder of UC Baby, Tina Ureten. This is an excerpt from the interview conducted by CBC News Senior Investigative Correspondent Diana Swain.

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CBC producers in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Calgary tested 22 clinics.

Fifteen would do a gender determination ultrasound before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

There are no laws in Canada about when a woman can be told the gender of a fetus.


Photos: Annie Burns-Pieper, left, and Timothy Sawa, right.

Senior investigative correspondent: Diana Swain
Senior producer: Harvey Cashore
Producer: Timothy Sawa
Associate producer: Annie Burns-Pieper
Web producers: Mary Sheppard, Lee Hewitt
Hidden camera work: Sangeeta Patel, Manjula Dufresne
Camera: Paul Seeler, Doug Trent, Hans Vanderzande
Web video editor: Khaleel Mohammad
Production editor: Loretta Hicks

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