NRL News

Sex-Selection Abortion—A War on Baby Girls

by | Jun 26, 2012

Pro-Life Congressman Chris SmithBy Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

Editor’s note. This excellent essay appears in the current issue of National Right to Life News. If you are not subscribing to the “pro-life newspaper of record,” give us a call at 202-626-8828 and we will get you signed up at the same time we send you out the latest edition.



In a 2011 undercover sting operation videotaped by Live Action, several Planned Parenthood affiliates were exposed as being ready, willing, and able to facilitate secret abortions for underage sex-trafficking victims—some as young or younger than 14—to get them on the streets again.

As the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the landmark law combating sex trafficking, I found the on-the-record willingness of Planned Parenthood personnel to exploit these trafficking victims—modern-day slaves—and partner with sex traffickers to be appalling.

More recently, Live Action has released another sting operation video—part of a new series, Gendercide: Sex Selection in America—showing Planned Parenthood staff advising an undercover female investigator how to procure a sex-selection abortion.

In response to the video, the Huffington Post reported that “no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in states that explicitly prohibit sex selection abortions.”

In other words, Planned Parenthood is OK with exterminating a child in its huge network of clinics simply because she’s a girl. What a dangerous place for little girls. Let’s not forget that Planned Parenthood aborts approximately 330,000 children each year. That is the real war on women.

By now most people know that the killing of baby girls by abortion or at birth is pervasive in China due to the brutal one-child policy and a preference for sons. China and India are “missing” tens of millions of daughters.

In her book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, Mara Hvistendahl traces the sordid history of sex-selection abortion as a means of population control. “By August 1969, when the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Population Council convened another workshop on population control, sex selection had become a pet scheme. … Sex selection, moreover, had the added advantage of reducing the number of potential mothers … . [I]f a reliable sex determination technology could be made available to a mass market,” there was “rough consensus” that sex-selection abortion “would be an effective, uncontroversial, and ethical way of reducing the global population.”

Fewer women, fewer mothers, fewer future children.

Hvistendahl writes that today “there are over 160 million females ‘missing’ from Asia’s population. That’s more than the entire female population of the United States. And gender imbalance—which is mainly the result of sex selective abortion—is no longer strictly an Asian problem. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, in Eastern Europe, and even among some groups in the United States, couples are making sure at least one of their children is a son. So many parents now select for boys that they have skewed the sex ratio at birth of the entire world.”

In the “Global War Against Baby Girls,” renowned American Enterprise Institute demographer Nicholas Eberstadt wrote in The New Atlantis last fall that “over the past three decades the world has come to witness an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide, implemented through the practice of surgical abortion with the assistance of information gained through prenatal gender determination technology. All around the world, the victims of this new practice are overwhelmingly female—in fact, almost universally female. The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still-growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe—and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new ‘missing baby girls’ each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.”

As far back as 1990, Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen wrote in the New York Review of Books that “More than 100 Million Women are Missing.” In 2003, Sen wrote that sex-selection abortion was the primary cause.

A 2008 study by Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Columbia University documented “male-biased sex ratios among U.S. born children of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian parents in the 2000 U.S. census. The male bias is particularly evident for third children: If there was no previous son, sons outnumbered daughters by 50 percent … . We interpret the found deviation in favor of sons to be evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.”

A study published in 2011 by Sunita Pun and three other researchers undertook “in-depth interviews with 65 immigrant Indian women in the United States who had pursued fetal sex selection on the East and West Coasts of the United States between September 2004 and December 2009” and found “that 40% of the women interviewed had terminated prior pregnancies with female fetuses and that 89% of women carrying female fetuses in their current pregnancy pursued an abortion.”

Many European nations including the United Kingdom as well as several Asian countries ban sex-selection abortion. Only four U.S. states—Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania—proscribe it.

The United States is today a destination country for sex-selection abortion. According to a House Judiciary Committee Report, “women cross the border from Canada (where it is illegal) to obtain sex selection abortions in the United States.”

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, authored by pro-life champion Congressman Trent Franks, seeks an end to this flagrant violence against women by prescribing criminal and civil penalties on abortionists who knowingly perform an abortion based on sex or gender of the child.

If enacted, the Act, H.R. 3541, will also penalize anyone who uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion. This anti-coercion provision is an extremely important protection for women. The bill passed in the House by a clear majority (246–168) in a suspension of the rules, a voting procedure which requires 2/3 votes for passage.

According to the House Judiciary Committee Report, “sex-selection abortions are oftentimes coerced.” The report notes “women who refuse sex-selection abortions are sometimes physically abused. A woman may be denied food, water, and rest to induce abortion where it is determined that the woman is carrying a female unborn child. Some women described being hit, pushed, choked and kicked in the abdomen in a husband’s attempt to terminate a female unborn child. Pregnancy is already a vulnerable time for women; the most common cause of death for pregnant women in the United States is homicide, often at the hands of the unborn child’s father.”

And the Act will hold accountable anyone who knowingly solicits or accepts funds for the performance of a sex-selection abortion or transports a woman into the U.S. or across a state line for a sex-selection abortion.

Sex-selection abortion is cruel and discriminatory—and legal. The Congress can—and must—defend women from this vicious assault.


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