Sex-selective abortion

I thought that I would pass on some links of articles that I read about this phenomenon that occurs not only abroad, but even here in the US, especially among immigrants from India, China, and Korea:

Breakpoint commentary on occurrences in U.S., along with the Forbes article by Richard Miniter that the commentary draws on.

Breakpoint commentary on sex-selective abortion in general, with links to (among others) Ross Douthat’s column on the 160 million “missing women,” an article in the Christian Post about a Live Action recording of a Planned Parenthood staffer (now fired) who was willing to help the Live Action caller obtain an abortion based on sex, and a more technical article from The New Atlantis that looks at the global phenomenon. This last article has a link to a study on sex ratios discussed in the two articles from the previous bullet point. I have not read the study.

Nicholas Eberstadt, author of the article in The New Atlantis, believes that the unnatural sex ratios that result from sex-selective abortions will continue to proliferate around the world. See the article for predictions for what this could mean for societies with large male-female imbalances, what’s been called “missing women.” The consequences include things like trafficking of women because their scarcity leads to a higher value.

While it’s easy to think that only ignorant people would abort their daughters, he believes that the explanation is quite different:

As we have seen, sudden steep increases in SRBs are by no means inconsistent with continuing improvements in levels of per capita income and female education — or, for that matter, with legal strictures against sex-selective abortion. Two of the key factors associated with unnatural upsurges in nationwide SRBs — low or sub-replacement fertility levels and easy access to inexpensive prenatal gender-determination technology — will likely be present in an increasing number of low-income societies in the years and decades immediately ahead. The third factor critical to mass female feticide — ruthless son preference — is perhaps surprisingly difficult to identify in advance. In theory, overbearing son preference should be available from demographic and health surveys — such as India’s National Family and Health Survey, which demonstrated that prospective mothers in the state of Punjab desired their next child to be male rather than female by a ratio of 10 to 1. Yet ironically, despite the many tens of millions of dollars that international aid and development agencies have spent on the hundreds of demographic and health surveys they have supported in low-income countries over recent decades, information on sex preference is almost never collected. (Evidently, Western funders of Third World population programs are concerned about the number of babies local parents desire, not their genders.)

Differential infant and child mortality rates arguably also offer clues about son preference: societies where female rates exceed male rates (patterns arising from systemic discriminatory mistreatment of little girls) may be correspondingly disposed to prenatal gender discrimination as well. According to theWorld Health Organization’s 2009 Life Tables, over 60 countries currently experience higher infant or age 1-4 mortality rates for girls than for boys: a roster including much of South-Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, and over a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa. If such gender bias in mortality turns out to be a predictor of sex-selection bias, this global problem may get considerably worse before it gets better.

– And finally, an example of how abortion rights advocates can’t oppose this very well:

But now our slogans about individual rights — “my child, my choice” — have been appropriated as ad copy for the sex-selective clinics we find troubling. Even if people use new technologies to select for girls, and evidence suggests Caucasian women do, they apply the notion of “choice” to germinate restrictive notions of gender. When we fought for autonomy, this did not mean the right to engineer your own namesake or a pinkalicious-shopping buddy. What it meant was a right for women to define who they were and wanted to be on their own terms, on their own timeline.

Research shows that the language of “choice” has left audiences cold. Studies in cognitive linguistics, psychology, and even marketing contend this framework suggests action quickly considered and of little consequence — hardly a rhetorical counterweight to “life” or apt description of how most women undertake this decision.

But the concept of choice no longer fits either. Not only did we not want government out when it comes to financial assistance to access the abortion, we’re not vying for a mandate that says anything goes in the world of parenting.

Sex selection forces us to take stock of what we believe and start saying it. Here is our chance to leave behind the tired, consumer-led, conversation. “My choice,” or even “my child,” never described our community-supported ideals of child rearing. We must move from choice and it’s inevitable follow-up — “What kind of child do I want to have?” — to the more meaningful question: “What kind of parent do I want to become?”


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