Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sex Selection Abortion and America's Silent Bigotry

Colin Mason, Population Research Institute, writes an expose in the PRI Weekly Briefing on the silence in our society regarding sex-selective abortion, and the shocking reason behind it.


Sex Selection Abortion and America's Silent Bigotry

The advent of ultrasound technology is usually considered a boon to the pro-life movement. Ever since its rise to common use, countless lives of unborn children have been saved, as women gaze in wonder at the beautifully formed human beings inside them.

Now, incredibly, the power of the ultrasound is being twisted against the cause of life. Not only can an ultrasound demonstrate the power and beauty of life within the womb, the technology has advanced to the point where is can also give an accurate report on the child's sex. As a result, incredible as it may sound, it is becoming statistically more common for babies to be aborted for that reason.

This problem is rampant in places like India and China, where restrictive reproductive policies are in effect. Families in these countries, prevented from having several children, are desperate to have a boy to assist with the farm’s hard labor, and to care for them in their old age. As a result, girls are often aborted or killed after they are born, which has led to catastrophic sex imbalances in these regions.

According to the UN Population Division, China's modern sex ratio is 94 women to every 100 men, compared to 103 women for every 100 men in the United States, or 104 women for every 100 men in England. India’s statistics are no more comforting. As of 2007, 93 Indian girls were born for every 100 boys. According to further UN reports, sex-selection abortion and infanticide has proven responsible for the loss of at least 60 million girls throughout the world, probably more.

Although China and India have implemented laws that prohibit these sex-selective practices, they have little real impact. Many media sources, including Chinese and Indian ones, have laid the blame of this accelerated sex-balance crisis on China's one-child policy, and rightly so. However, there is a more pervasive problem at work here, a significant shift in people's attitudes that allows there to even be a problem like this in the first place. This problem is not simply restricted to China or India, but is present even in our own country.

Most people in the United States look at sex-selection abortion as being a far-away phenomenon, one that only occurs in backward third-world countries, where obsolete ideas about women and society are still touted as cultural norms. In fact, a poll published in the Presbyterians Pro-Life News shows that 79% of Americans polled believe that abortion should not be legal solely because a woman doesn't like the gender of her child. Sex-selective abortion is rightly seen by many as the ultimate mysogyny, a horrible discrimination against women before they are even born.

Where, then, is the outcry that human rights have been violated? Where is the liberal umbrage against a practice so utterly anti-woman, so boldly oppressive? Where is the feminist activism about a tragedy that even the United Nations is lamenting?

It isn't that American feminists are comfortable with the idea of sex-selective abortions. A few may even quietly denounce the practice from time to time. However, the vast majority of feminists keep a chilly silence on an issue that should be the parade case of the "violence against women" they claim to be against.

The naked truth about feminism and its actual priorities is this: the abortion-on-demand doctrine is so important, so paramount in the minds of feminists, that they are willing to sacrifice their other dearly-held agendas on its altar.

As a result, feminists will often bend over backward to justify or dismiss sex-selection abortion. In a paper entitled "Can Sex Selection Be Ethically Tolerated?", B. M. Dickens argues that sex-selection is "clearly sexual, but not neccesarily sexist . . . To suppose that any such choice is necessarily sexist is unjust, and to base laws introducing criminal penalties on such a supposition . . . is both unjust and oppressive." This paper is available at the Journal of Medical Ethics’ online database here.

B.M Dickens also quotes Susan Sherwin, a feminist author and professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at Dalhousie University. In her book, No Longer Patient: Feminist Ethics and Health Care, she neatly summarizes the feminist outlook on the subject. "Whatever the specific reasons are for abortion," Sherwin states, "most feminists believe that the women concerned are in the best position to judge whether abortion is the appropriate response to pregnancy . . . most feminists agree that women must gain full control over their own reproductive lives if they are to free themselves from male dominance."

It is ironic that the escape from "male dominance" may include, as collateral damage, the wholesale destruction of nearly an entire generation of unborn women. The commitment to abortion is so ingrained that the feminists have become the oppressors. They themselves are perpetrating a violence that is far more widespread, far more sinister than anything they claim to be active against.

It is this bigotry that American pro-lifers are fighting. We understand that there will never be a strong barrier against sex-selective abortion until there is a strong barrier against abortion. It should never be permissible under the law to take an innocent human life for another's convenience. Once it is, however, we should not be surprised when, after a short while, no one even attempts to disguise the fact anymore. Simply put, as it stands now, there is nothing between modern American society and an epidemic of sex-selection abortion save for our own whim. As Alexis de Tocqueville said so many years ago, "the health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens."

With abortion-on-demand, I fear for the future of our democratic society.

[image source]

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