Amanda Marcotte vs. Wikipedia on whether sex-selection abortion is “nonexistent”
Bills banning sex-selective abortions are trendy among the anti-choice set because, while those abortions aren’t actually common in real life, it’s politically expedient to traffic in ugly stereotypes of daughter-hating Asian immigrants.
Banning the non-existent problem of sex-selective abortion is an easy way to grandstand and score “pro-life” points while preening about how pro-woman you are.
When sex ratio began being studied in China in 1960, it was still within the normal range. However, it climbed to 111.9 by 1990 and to 118 by 2010 per its official census. Researchers believe that the causes of this sex ratio imbalance are increased female infant mortality, underreporting of female births and sex-selective abortion. According to Zeng et al. (1993), the most prominent cause is probably sex-selective abortion, but this is difficult to prove that in a country with little reliable birth data because of the hiding of “illegal” (under the One-Child Policy) births.
However, many people have personal connections to medical practitioners and strong son preference still dominates culture, leading to the widespread use of sex determination techniques. According to Hardy, Gu, and Xie (2000), ultrasound has spread to all areas of China, as evidenced by the spread of the high sex ratio throughout the country.
In the past, desire for a son was manifested by large birth rates—many couples would continue to have children until they had a son. However, the combination of financial concerns and, more importantly, the One-child policy (discussed further below) have led to an increase in gender planning and selection. Even in rural areas, most women know that ultrasonography can be used for gender discernment. For each subsequent birth, Junhong found that women are over 10% more likely to have an ultrasound (39% for firstborn, 55% for second born, 67% for third born). Additionally, he found that the sex of the firstborn child impacts whether a woman will have an ultrasound in her subsequent pregnancies: 40% of women with a firstborn son have an ultrasound for their second born child, versus 70% of women with firstborn daughters. This points to a strong desire to select for a son if one has not been born yet.
With increasing availability of sex screening technologies in India through the 1980s in urban India, and claims of its misuse, the Government of India passed the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT) in 1994. This law was further amended into the Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) (PCPNDT) Act in 2004 to deter and punish prenatal sex screening and sex selective abortion. The impact of the law and its enforcement is unclear. United Nations Population Fund and India’s National Human Rights Commission, in 2009, asked the Government of India to assess the impact of the law. The Public Health Foundation of India, an activist NGO in its 2010 report, claimed a lack of awareness about the Act in parts of India, inactive role of the Appropriate Authorities, ambiguity among some clinics that offer prenatal care services, and the role of a few medical practitioners in disregarding the law.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has targeted education and media advertisements to reach clinics and medical professionals to increase awareness. The Indian Medical Association has undertaken efforts to prevent prenatal sex selection by giving its members Beti Bachao (save the daughter) badges during its meetings and conferences.
MacPherson estimates that 100,000 abortions every year continue to be performed in India solely because the fetus is female.
However, it is notable that minority groups that immigrate into the United States bring their cultural views and mindsets into the country with them. A study carried out at a Massachusetts infertility clinic shows that the majority of couples using these techniques, such as Preimplantation genetic diagnosis came from a Chinese or Asian background. This is thought to branch from the social importance of giving birth to male children in China and other Asian countries.
I have a question for Amanda Marcotte:
Female genital mutilation is a violation of U.S. federal law. Is that a good thing, or is it “politically expedient” trafficking in “ugly stereotypes of daughter-hating Asian immigrants”?
h/t: Ann Althouse
Posted by Charlotte Allen