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The “Persistence” of Sex-Selective Abortion and the Silence of Pro-Abortion Feminists

by | Jun 7, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

For whatever combination of reasons, thankfully there finally seems to be growing concern about the startling sex-ratio imbalance which is largely the result of sex-selective abortions made possible by the use of ultrasounds. Female babies are being aborted in astonishing numbers because they are female.

But….to pro-abortion feminists, trying to stop abortions on the basis of gender is a threat to their core belief: no abortion can ever be prohibited no matter what the reason or how late in pregnancy. I was about to write a piece based on such gibberish (“To protect girls, women must have rights,” by Sara Ditum) when a friend sent me a really scary piece from TIME magazine, based on an interview with Beijing-based journalist Mara Hvistendahl author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.”

I should at least mention that Ditum’s bottom line is “The way to prevent sex-selective abortion isn’t to legislate against it or attack the women who seek it – it’s to create cultural changes that transform the place of women.” Of course equality between the sexes—treating women not as “burdens” but as assets– is key. In the meanwhile, until that utopia is reached, millions and millions of women are being aborted—and the situation is rapidly growing worse.

The TIME interview can be read at Hvistendah “spoke with TIME about why women are becoming scarce, what that means for the world and why, so far, so few people have bothered to act.” Let me highlight three points that jump out at the reader.

#1. In countries with these skewed sex-ratios, “the ratio for first births is still close to its natural level: somewhere around 105 males for every 100 females.”  It’s what follows that explains the discrepancy: “An article published online in May in the medical journal The Lancet shows that Indians who first give birth to a girl are more likely to use sex-selective abortion during a second or subsequent pregnancy — presumably to ensure that their family eventually includes at least one son. Sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, but the procedure appears increasingly common.”

#2. Perhaps the point that should most shock us, “A preference for sons may be rooted in centuries-old tradition, but the rising sex ratio is no more than a few decades old. Hvistendahl explains that sex-selective abortion was in fact promoted by American scholars and non-governmental organizations in the 20th century as a way to stanch population growth. If families kept having children to ensure at least one son, the thinking went, then many ‘excess’  births could be averted by terminating the less-wanted female ones.” [But it hasn’t been confined to sex-selective abortions. In an earlier book, Hvistendah and historian Matthew Connelly documented that “many Americans and Europeans in Asia encouraged routine sterilization and even forced abortion among couples who already had children.”]

#3. Returning to the crucial significance of abortion, “In some ways, perhaps, the most likely advocates for the world’s missing girls are also the most hamstrung. Sex selection reveals deep gender discrimination. Yet the very women’s rights advocates who might fight that discrimination are often the same people who’ve campaigned hard in the U.S. and elsewhere to secure a woman’s right to choose her reproductive future.”

Here we hear an echo of Ditum’s argument: you start banning ANY abortion, no matter how abhorrent,  and……

“Where Have All the Women Gone? Why Sex Selection Persists” is a very, very powerful piece. Please take the time to read it at

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