One of the most discussed topics over the last 50 years is gender discrimination, formerly known as sexism or chauvinism. Whatever term used, the meaning is the same; one gender or sex is viewed as more valuable than the other.
Throughout most cultures, women have historically been the object of gender discrimination. Feminist groups have pointed out many ways in which women are discriminated against. Some include domestic violence, legal status, wage gap, rape, etc. Rarely is sex-selective abortion discussed, but it should be for many reasons.
The potential has always existed for discrimination through abortions but this issue is not often headline news. Since the mid-1980’s the capacity for discrimination has been greatly increased due to the development of advanced medical technologies, including the use of ultrasound machines that identify the gender of a child before it is born.
For the past 20 years, a world wide holocaust is taking place. Millions of unborn baby girls have been aborted…simply because they are girls. This practice is called sex-selection abortion and is defined by the United Nations as the “intentional killing of unborn females due to the preference for male offspring (also known as “son preference”).”
According to the United States CIA World Fact Book, China and India have the most skewed ratio of male to female new births. For every 100 baby girls born in China and India, about 120-130 baby boys are born. This pattern is alarming because the average ratio in other countries and formerly in both of these nations is much lower, closer to 105 boys for every 100 girls.
Cultural norms in both of these countries and the Chinese government’s mandated birth limit of one child, has the potential to wreak havoc on those countries and the rest of the world.
Sons are preferred for social and financial reasons, and government and norms create incentives for families to value sons, not daughters – the worst kind of gender discrimination. This results in sex-selection abortion as a means to provide a way for couples to ensure that their offspring will be boys. Unintended consequences include huge losses in female population.
In fact, according to a UNICEF report released in December 2006, about 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born daily in India, and about 10 million fewer girls than expected were born in the past 20 years.
China is fast becoming the land of missing women. A 1996 study conducted by a Chinese researcher claimed that 85 percent of aborted fetuses in Zhejiang, a rural county in China, were female. More recent studies conclude that sex-selection abortion of baby girls and female infanticide, the killing of new-born baby girls, are prevalent in every sector of Chinese society, more so in rural China.
The situation in China and India is cause for great concern. Serious ramifications and unintended consequences echo throughout the world. The consequences from sex-selection abortion, female infanticide and the imbalance of male and female ratios include increased rape, sex trafficking and prostitution, crime, societal unrest and obstruction to the development of democracy and prosperity. Ironically, reducing the female population increases female discrimination.
The practice of sex-selection abortion carries with it many complicated issues that involve ethics, morals and fundamental human rights. Although it is most often discussed in the realm of medical ethics, sex-selection can easily be viewed as a breach of human rights. The selective elimination of females in the prenatal state is an infringement of their right to equality and existence.
Arizona Congressmen Trent Franks wrote in The Washington Times, “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, this form of discrimination should horrify every American. The idea of killing a baby simply because she is a girl is reprehensible. Unsurprisingly, a March 2006 Zogby International poll found that 86 percent of Americans supported a prohibition on sex-selection abortion. Indeed, what good are the hard-won liberties of voting and other women’s rights if babies may still be aborted simply for being girls?”
Another concern among population experts is the frequency with which sex-selective abortions are performed and the reason they are executed.
“Designer families” are becoming more and more popular with European and American couples. Using today’s technology to “design” the number, type and sex of their families has geneticists, ethicists, pro-life and pro-family experts alarmed over the potential harm this practice will have on children, families and society as a whole, and especially on women.
United Families International has been watching the progression of sex-selection abortion for several years and has watched in horror as those that fight for the rights of women at the UN and around the world neglect to stop the worst violation against women; one that all NGOs (non-government organizations) can and should passionately rally behind.
Hopefully the “choice” crowd will recognize that this practice is not about the right to have an abortion, it is about a woman’s right to live and be valued as a human being. Being a girl should not be a choice. Being a girl should be a right. Being a girl should be valued.