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Who Cares if “They” have sex-selection abortions?

by | Sep 24, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers

In the short bio that accompanied “Sex Selection of Fetuses is a parental right,” Cameron English is described as a “science writer and editor from Sacramento, CA.” Writing in Policymic.com, he confidently and condescendingly informs us that the dire predictions of the impact of sex-selection abortion are “exaggerated. As it is with many other scientific advances, the concern about sex selection is another example of unwarranted fears jumping ahead of the evidence.”

Let’s see how he makes his case.

While there may be a preference elsewhere for boys over girls, English writes, not so in places such as the  United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States (at least according to 2004 surveys). Of course this conveniently misses the whole point. Hundreds of millions of girls are “missing” in places like China and India and the cultural preference for males over females has been facilitated by ultrasound machines.

And there is no sign the demand is slackening; indeed, it is not confined to poorer families but has spread to the affluent. Moreover more recent surveys show these cultural preferences for boys are coming like unwelcomed baggage with immigrants from China and India and elsewhere as they migrate to places like Canada.

English dismissed the comments of Marcy Darnovsky, director of the Center for Genetics and Society, who told Slate magazine recently that sex selection is a form of “high-tech eugenics.” This is “odd, to put it politely, since eugenics involved forcibly preventing certain people from reproducing,” he writes. “Allowing parents to choose the sex of their child hardly seems on par with mass sterilization, as far as ethical concerns go.”

But eugenics has never been confined to sterilization the “unfit.” There is also so-called “positive eugenics” which was and is an attempt to produce the “right kind” of child, including the child with the correct eye color, high IQ, and the desired sex. Needless to say a lot of babies who have been conceived by IVF who do not meet the desired criteria are destroyed. In that sense, infanticide, which is practiced in China, is a kind of post-natal “positive” eugenics.

English strolls into other equally beside-the-point/miss the point territory before arriving at his real destination: “Furthermore, if the arguments for reproductive freedom are strong enough to justify preventing or terminating a pregnancy, then surely they’re strong enough to justify women choosing the sex of the children they will raise. If compared, it’s rather easy to see that the arguments made in support of sex selection are essentially identical to those made in defense of abortion.”

Actually, no. Originally, the basis of the case for abortion was largely medical (abortion in tragic cases such as babies whose mothers took Thalidomide) which morphed into more exceptions which eventually evolved from this very narrow range of cases into the “need” for abortion on demand to assure women’s equality. In none of these justifications was it advertised that women’s “equality” would be furthered by killing unborn babies BECAUSE they were female!

English’s conclusion is, who knows what might happen down the road, but so far critics of sex-selection haven’t made their case. “Restricting personal choice shouldn’t be a part of that discussion, at least not without evidence,” he argues.

Well, as noted above, there is plenty of evidence that unborn baby girls are aborted by the hundreds of millions. And just because the radically skewed sex ratios that he concedes can be found in countries in the South and Near East haven’t reached the United States (or other Western countries) doesn’t mean they won’t be to a lesser extent and, in any event, doesn’t change what is currently taking place elsewhere on a massive scale.

English reveals much more than he intended. Note also that the not so subtle subtext of English’s argument which is hard to miss is that who cares if “they”—meaning countries other than the United States and Western Europe—practice an ugly, ugly lethal discrimination against unborn girls.

When I finished his essay I thought of the night last summer when Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, spoke at the National Right to Life convention. I was never more proud of our Movement than when I heard Littlejohn and others say at that dynamic and powerful general session that pro-lifers care about unborn babies not just in the United States, but around the world.

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