Letters to the Editor

‘Quantum Sufficit’ Artwork Considered Offensive


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Jul 15;70(2):258-260.

to the editor: The illustration by Peter Brunke that accompanied the September 15, 2003 “Quantum Sufficit”1 piece on fetal sex prediction as a correlate of maternal caloric intake was offensive in its blatant sexism. It portrayed a pregnant woman eating a large meal and, therefore, presumably carrying a male fetus, with her partner smiling. Next to her was another pregnant woman, eating a small meal and, therefore, presumably carrying a female fetus, with her partner scowling.

While a charitable interpretation of the cartoon might conclude that the partner of the woman eating the large meal was happy because his partner had a big appetite, this is clearly not the message. Rather, the cartoon illustrates that men are happy when expecting male infants and unhappy when expecting female infants.

This is the 21st century, and physicians and health policy advocates in the United States are addressing issues of health disparity, including those of gender. In other parts of the world, female infants and children are still selectively denied their birthrights, food, and education. It is disgraceful for a journal like American Family Physician to publish such a sexist illustration.


1. Quantum Sufficit. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68:1007.

editor’s note: Dr. Kent’s point is well taken. I agree that this illustration should not have been used for the reasons given. I apologize for this unintended oversight.


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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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