Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Opposition to Outlawing Sex Selective Abortion or Why Killing Females Because They are Females is Acceptable Collateral Damage to Some Feminist Groups

My favorite website this week is http://yaleglobal.yale.edu. If you haven't seen it yet, it's well worth a perusal.

I found this quote which struck me for both its frankness, the despicableness of the faulty moral reasoning, and the source. The author was the former director of the UN Population Fund, and Yale isn't exactly a bastion of pro-life thought.
"Others, however, while acknowledging that sex-selective abortion is a morally reprehensible practice, stress a woman’s right to choose her reproductive outcomes as paramount. Many pro-choice and feminist groups are convinced that outlawing sex-selective abortion will undermine the reproductive rights of women."

Another quote that I found scary was this one: "Higher (male-to-famale sex) ratios are observed in urban areas, 111, and in the wealthier Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, 126 and 122, respectively." I've been told by Indian friends in the past that sex preferences are mostly limited to the backwoods provinces in the NE. This seems to directly contradict such claims and does not bode well. If the wealthier (presumably better educated states) have the highest sex ratio imbalances, that implies to me that rooting out such deep seated prejudice is going to be very difficult and won't occur automatically with development and a better educated female populace. Indeed, even immigrant communities in the US have measureable sex ratio imbalances. "Increasing evidence suggests that the practice of sex-selective abortions is occurring among Chinese and Indian immigrant communities living abroad. In the US, for example, figures from the 2000 census indicate US-born children of Chinese, Indian and Korean parents tended to be male."

The article on this "dilemna" underscores for me the logic behind denying US funding to the UNFPA which helps to administer China's draconian one-child policy (including forced sterilization and forced abortion) and which leads to terrible consequences such as the kidnapping and sale of children. Organizations which have lost their moral bearings to the point that outlawing sex-selective abortion is considered to be a "dilemna" don't deserve taxpayer dollars.



Kevin said...

Great posts, MB. I'm sorry I have so little time to delve into them at the moment.

However, I did find the article summary to be remarkable in its short-circuiting premise and conclusion that legal restrictions do not affect incidence of abortion:

"While legal restrictions do not affect incidence, governments continue to debate appropriate reasons, technology, limits and ethics. The result is dilemmas. [...] Yet in the end, legalities will do little to persuade a woman intent on ending a pregnancy."

I think that second sentence "The result is dilemmas" even implies that if people recognized the futility of the debate, the dilemmas would disappear. With such a premise, I wonder what motivated the author to even write an article.


MamasBoy said...


Thanks for pointing that out. It is a striking statement. The Guttmacher institute (former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortion provider), states, "Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence. For example, the abortion rate is 29 in Africa, where abortion is illegal in many circumstances in most countries, and it is 28 in Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. The lowest rates in the world are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is accessible with few restrictions"

It seems quite tenuous to compare abortion rates across economic and cultural divides. It would probably be better to compare abortion rates in within Western Europe, within Eastern Europe or within Africa to determine whether legal restrictions affect incidence. It seems to me that it obviously would. For instance, Poland has an extremely low incidence (roughly 0%), while Romania's incidence is relatively high (28%). I don't think Poland (a former communist state) would have such a low abortion rate, if it were not for their restrictive laws. They certainly didn't have such a low rate during the communist era. http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/polandlaw.html

(Disclaimer: the above website is a private one, but it seems to be professionally compiled and footnoted quite well. I haven't had time to vet it further.)

An article in the NY Times gives more background on how they reached their conclusion. I must say that I agree with much of the criticism that this conclusion is based on shaky statistics and numerous assumptions.


At the same time, it is a relatively safe thing to say that when abortion is available on demand (as is the case in many, if not most countries around the world), culture is the primary determinant of the abortion rate.


Sarah said...

Thanks for posting this. Tragic and totally crazy. I guess that by this logic, when push comes to shove, agism is okay. Females of reproductive age have rights whereas unborn females do not - Insane! In Abbotsford, BC, (a bedroom community of Vancouver which has a very high Indian population) clinics are restricted by local law not to disclose the sex of the baby when conducting initial ultrasounds. This by-law was a response to the sexist abortion trends you cite here.