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Gender-Based Abortion


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#1 smac97

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:14 AM

This story has some interesting things to say about the "moral" argument about abortion:

Mara Hvistendahl is worried about girls. Not in any political, moral or cultural sense but as an existential matter. She is right to be. In China, India and numerous other countries (both developing and developed), there are many more men than women, the result of systematic campaigns against baby girls. In "Unnatural Selection," Ms. Hvistendahl reports on this gender imbalance: what it is, how it came to be and what it means for the future.

In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio is biologically ironclad. Between 104 and 106 is the normal range, and that's as far as the natural window goes. Any other number is the result of unnatural events.

Yet today in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, the number is 121—though plenty of Chinese towns are over the 150 mark. China's and India's populations are mammoth enough that their outlying sex ratios have skewed the global average to a biologically impossible 107. But the imbalance is not only in Asia. Azerbaijan stands at 115, Georgia at 118 and Armenia at 120.

What is causing the skewed ratio: abortion. If the male number in the sex ratio is above 106, it means that couples are having abortions when they find out the mother is carrying a girl. By Ms. Hvistendahl's counting, there have been so many sex-selective abortions in the past three decades that 163 million girls, who by biological averages should have been born, are missing from the world. Moral horror aside, this is likely to be of very large consequence.

The article discusses some of the sociological effects of gender imbalance. Then this:

Ms. Hvistendahl is a first-rate reporter and has filled "Unnatural Selection" with gripping details. She has interviewed demographers and doctors from Paris to Mumbai. She spends a devastating chapter talking with Paul Ehrlich, the man who mainstreamed overpopulation hysteria in 1968 with "The Population Bomb"—and who still seems to think that getting rid of girls is a capital idea (in part because it will keep families from having more and more children until they get a boy).
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Ms. Hvistendahl also dredges up plenty of unpleasant documents from Western actors like the Ford Foundation, the United Nations and Planned Parenthood, showing how they pushed sex-selective abortion as a means of controlling population growth. In 1976, for instance, the medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Malcom Potts, wrote that, when it came to developing nations, abortion was even better than birth control: "Early abortion is safe, effective, cheap and potentially the easiest method to administer."

The following year another Planned Parenthood official celebrated China's coercive methods of family planning, noting that "persuasion and motivation [are] very effective in a society in which social sanctions can be applied against those who fail to cooperate in the construction of the socialist state."

Lovely stuff, eh?

Strangely enough, though, the author of the book is apparently pro-abortion:

Ms. Hvistendahl is particularly worried that the "right wing" or the "Christian right"—as she labels those whose politics differ from her own—will use sex-selective abortion as part of a wider war on abortion itself. She believes that something must be done about the purposeful aborting of female babies or it could lead to "feminists' worst nightmare: a ban on all abortions."

It is telling that Ms. Hvistendahl identifies a ban on abortion—and not the killing of tens of millions of unborn girls—as the "worst nightmare" of feminism. Even though 163 million girls have been denied life solely because of their gender, she can't help seeing the problem through the lens of an American political issue.


This is where the discussion gets interesting. The author of the book impliedly concedes that gender-based abortion is bad:

Yet, while she is not willing to say that something has gone terribly wrong with the pro-abortion movement, she does recognize that two ideas are coming into conflict: "After decades of fighting for a woman's right to choose the outcome of her own pregnancy, it is difficult to turn around and point out that women are abusing that right."


So abortion to avoid having a girl amounts to "abusing" the right to abortion? Why is that? Why is aborting a baby girl "wrong" but aborting for some other non-medically-necessary reason A-Okay?

Late in "Unnatural Selection," Ms. Hvistendahl makes some suggestions as to how such "abuse" might be curbed without infringing on a woman's right to have an abortion. In attempting to serve these two diametrically opposed ideas, she proposes banning the common practice of revealing the sex of a baby to parents during ultrasound testing. And not just ban it, but have rigorous government enforcement, which would include nationwide sting operations designed to send doctors and ultrasound techs and nurses who reveal the sex of babies to jail. Beyond the police surveillance of obstetrics facilities, doctors would be required to "investigate women carrying female fetuses more thoroughly" when they request abortions, in order to ensure that their motives are not illegal.

Uh, yeah. Good luck with that. Once the idea of abortion-for-any-reason-or-no-reason-at-all takes root, it's kinda hard to backtrack and say "well, unless you want to abort little girls, 'cuz that kind of abortion is morally repugnant."

The article ends with a bang:

Despite the author's intentions, "Unnatural Selection" might be one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion. It is aimed, like a heat-seeking missile, against the entire intellectual framework of "choice." For if "choice" is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against "gendercide." Aborting a baby because she is a girl is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother's "mental health" requires it. Choice is choice. One Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: "I have patients who come and say 'I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.' "

This is where choice leads. This is where choice has already led. Ms. Hvistendahl may wish the matter otherwise, but there are only two alternatives: Restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.


Interesting that the author of this article used the word "calamities" to describe the consequences of this sort of behavior. Where have I heard this before? Oh, right here:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
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The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.
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We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.


Thoughts?

-Smac
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#2 CV75

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:22 AM

This story has some interesting things to say about the "moral" argument about abortion:

I think it is telling when a group proposes to keep women ignorant of their sonogram results while encouraging them to abort.

This is also interesting to me as to how it relates to another thread about the updated Gospel Principles manual that was hypothesized to be responding to the increased likelihood of a larger proportion of unmarried people without the opportunity to marry.
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#3 Luigi

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:34 AM

Sadly in countries that have developed a strong preference for having male children the prohibition of abortion leads to even more horrific outcomes. Often the result is either illegal abortions which are notoriously unsafe or neglect and abandonment of female children once they are born. I think the problem that needs to be addressed in these cultures is the attitude of favoring male children over female children. Until you really deal with that problem the outcome is going to be morally reprehensible regardless of whether someone finds abortion acceptable or not.
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#4 thesometimesaint

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:41 AM

Sonograms are not 100% accurate in determing sex.
http://www.americanp...ultrasound.html

When can an ultrasound determine the sex of the baby? You may have an ultrasound between 18 to 20 weeks to evaluate dates, a multiples pregnancy, placenta location or complications. It may also be possible to determine the gender of your baby during this ultrasound. Several factors, such as the stage of pregnancy and position of fetus, will influence the accuracy of the gender prediction. To be 100% sure you will have an anxious wait until the birth!
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#5 cinepro

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:58 AM

Sadly in countries that have developed a strong preference for having male children the prohibition of abortion leads to even more horrific outcomes. Often the result is either illegal abortions which are notoriously unsafe or neglect and abandonment of female children once they are born. I think the problem that needs to be addressed in these cultures is the attitude of favoring male children over female children. Until you really deal with that problem the outcome is going to be morally reprehensible regardless of whether someone finds abortion acceptable or not.


I didn't read the article, but that was my thought as well. What can be done to address the root of the problem: the culture that values male children over females? Until you take care of the incentive for parents to abort (or otherwise kill) their female children, removing one option is just going to shift the method used into something else.

In other words, if you take away the parents' ability to know the sex of the child from an ultrasound, you are just telling them you want them to wait until after the baby is born to decide whether to kill it or not.

Edited by cinepro, 21 June 2011 - 10:34 AM.

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#6 thesometimesaint

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:29 AM

cinepro:

In less "civilized" societies the disabled/less desireable infants were left to die right after birth. :( Not sure as it is any better from a moral standpoint.
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#7 bluebell

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:46 AM

I'm wondering about the author's claim that the skewed average of baby boys being born compared to girls has to mean that girls are being aborted.

I'm having a hard time believing that in rural villages in india and china, for example, that women are having ultrasounds to determine the sex of their baby and then are aborting females. I doesn't seem logical that these poor villagers have access to that kind of pregnancy care, or the money.

It seems more logical that in those kinds of communities, baby girls are being born but are being killed after the fact rather than being killed while in utero.

I haven't read the book though, so maybe the author addresses this issue in there.
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#8 staccato

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 05:51 PM

Malcom Potts, wrote that, when it came to developing nations, abortion was even better than birth control: "Early abortion is safe, effective, cheap and potentially the easiest method to administer."


I spent five minutes looking for the original source for this quote to see if it was connected to an implication that "abortion was even better than birth control."

I couldn't find it.
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#9 rodheadlee

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:40 PM

I guess it's a good way to raise an army.
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#10 Pahoran

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:01 PM

Sadly in countries that have developed a strong preference for having male children the prohibition of abortion leads to even more horrific outcomes. Often the result is either illegal abortions which are notoriously unsafe or neglect and abandonment of female children once they are born. I think the problem that needs to be addressed in these cultures is the attitude of favoring male children over female children. Until you really deal with that problem the outcome is going to be morally reprehensible regardless of whether someone finds abortion acceptable or not.

Quaere: In what universe is aborting 160 x 10^6 baby girls "morally reprehensible" while aborting 80 x 10^6 baby girls and 80 x 10^6 baby boys A-OK?

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#11 Pahoran

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:07 PM

I didn't read the article, but that was my thought as well. What can be done to address the root of the problem: the culture that values male children over females? Until you take care of the incentive for parents to abort (or otherwise kill) their female children, removing one option is just going to shift the method used into something else.

In other words, if you take away the parents' ability to know the sex of the child from an ultrasound, you are just telling them you want them to wait until after the baby is born to decide whether to kill it or not.

The problem is that parents "value" boys more because they're only allowed one child, and they are relying upon that one child to look after them in their old age.

There's not a whole lot that "we" can do about it; the fault lies with the governments in question. Either they can subject all those parents to politically-correct indoctrination (which, BTW, happens to be a major part of the cause of the problem to begin with) or they can admit that "population bomb" hysteria has created more problems than it solves, and remove oppressive, coercive population control policies.

Regards,
Pahoran
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#12 bluebell

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:14 PM

The problem is that parents "value" boys more because they're only allowed one child, and they are relying upon that one child to look after them in their old age.

I sympathize with those people who are faced with this problem. In these cultures, girls grow up and leave the family home, devoting all their time and resources to the husband's family. An elderly couple with no sons in such cultures ensures that in their old age they will starve to death, die from exposure, sickness, etc.
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