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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Gendercide" in the US...what a crock!

"Gendercide," or sex selective abortion is in the news right now because of a ridiculous "sting video" from the anti-choice group Live Action.  It should be noted that they were so heavy-handed with their intent that Planned Parenthood knew what they were doing before this video was released.

From this video, we should draw the conclusion that sex-selective abortion is a problem in our country, that males are clearly favored in our society, even as babies, and that obtaining a sex-selective abortion would be an easy matter.  None of these things are true, by the way.

First of all, gender selective abortion is a problem in places like India and China.  In fact, it is illegal to find out the gender via ultrasound in India and China, although those with money seem to be able to find the right facilities to do it anyway.  The natural birth rates favor males, with 101-105 males born for every 100 females.  So, any deviation from this should indicate human intervention or possibly a severe problem with one gender or the other in a culture or nation.  China's birth ratio is estimated to be 116-120 males for every 100 females, and India's birth ratio is reported to be 830-914 girls for every 1,000 boys.  After a few simple calculations, that makes their ratio 109-120 males for every 100 females.  This is what a country's birth ratio looks like when sex-selective abortion is a problem.

I have to admit, though, that I do not think sex-selective abortion should be illegal in these countries.  Why?  Because sex-selective abortion prevents gender-based infanticide and abandonment of children of the unwanted gender!  Of course, infanticide is illegal in both countries, but that does not stop some desperate people from doing what they feel their culture is encouraging them to do.  Newborns are so delicate, that suffocating one without leaving any evidence is incredibly easy, and no one would be the wiser if the mother simply reported that the baby had been stillborn or died shortly after of unknown causes or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.)

The method of getting the male a poor family so desires is not in sex-selective abortion, which is illegal and therefore prohibitively expensive for them.  So, the unethical poor family commits female infanticide, while the ethical one simply keeps having children until the one they want is finally born.  So, making sex-selective abortion illegal is contributing to overpopulation, as well.

I think it's obvious that these difficult-to-enforce laws are not making women any more valued in these cultures.  Cultural change must come about in order to make women as valued as men, and these well-intentioned laws aren't going to change that.  I think that these countries need to suffer the consequences of an unbalanced society for a generation or so, before this swing to equality and appreciation for women will happen.  Clearly the disparity in gender ratio is already in place, now I think it's time to let the chips fall where they may.  If men have to compete for a small pool of women, perhaps they will start to value them.  At least we can expect overpopulation to be less of a problem, since there will be so many men unable to find a mate.

So, now that I've illustrated what a problem with sex-selective abortion looks like, here is why we do not have one in the US: our birth ratio is 104.7 males per 100 females. There is no reason to believe that the people of the United States need to intervene on abortions on the basis of gender.

Furthermore, the Live Action people who made that video are morons.  If they had done their research, they would realize that baby girls are more highly prized than baby boys in the US and the UK today.  In fact, this was highlighted in the documentary "Eight Boys and Wanting a Girl."  This information is based on a sex-selective IVF procedure called PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.  It was originally pioneered to predetermine which embryos were carriers of genetic disorders or abnormalities, but doctors quickly realized that this was the first non-abortive procedure that could virtually guarantee the gender of a baby.  It's been used for this purpose ever since, and couples come from all over the globe to balance their families, since sex-selective PGD is illegal in many countries including the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Norway, India and China, just to name a few.

This brings up an interesting point: if we're so worried about sex-selective abortion, why are we not pushing for insurance to cover gender-selective PGD?  And why are we not pushing to decriminalize the practice in other countries?

In the US, more baby girls are requested than baby boys in fertility treatments.  Did you also know that most people seeking to select for gender are not simply choosing to have a family of all girls or all boys?  No, according to Dr. Daniel Potter, a fertility doctor who specializes in PGD for gender selection, the majority want the opposite gender of the one they already have in order to balance their family.  There is an unspoken bias in this country against single-gender families, and the desperation of women wanting to have a daughter to relate to, or men wanting a son to pass his traditions on to should not be swept under the rug.  By the way, the actress in the video above claimed to be wanting a boy because she already had a girl.

Sex-selective abortion is quickly becoming another method for the anti-choice movement to unnecessarily restrict abortion access. Arizona has already made it illegal, and other states are looking to ban it, as well.  It is estimated that 77% of the US population supports a ban on sex-selective abortion, a  ban which is certainly an answer in search of a problem.  This ban is destructive because it chips away at our already-crumbling right to choose.  Furthermore, making this ban enforceable would be a terrible encroachment on prenatal care in this country and a disservice to doctors.  It would also make inroads to making it illegal to abort for gender-specific abnormalities and disorders.

Some of these bans are worded in such a way that the onus is on the doctor to determine whether an abortion is being performed for sex-selective purposes.  So, if a doctor doesn't adequately grill their already desperate and anxious patient, they can then be fined and/or subject to criminal charges?  What about women who are aborting because they've found out they are carrying a child with an X-linked disorder such as Hunter's syndrome or hemophilia?  They certainly would not be aborting if the child were a girl (because the baby could not possibly have the disease,) so is this a sex-selective abortion?

This is ridiculous ban is also totally unenforceable as it stands.  A woman can find out the gender at an 11 week chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and then when she goes in for an abortion claim that it's because she just doesn't want the pregnancy.  As long as she doesn't mention gender, no one would be the wiser.  So are we now going to ban any test that might reveal the gender of the fetus?  That would be a measure punishing the majority (since most women now find out the gender of their fetuses during routine ultrasounds) of the population for an unnecessary ban on a practice that is not known to occur in this country.  Sounds a little extreme to me!

Sex selective abortions would be, for the vast majority of the population, a second trimester abortion, subject to all the regulation, high fees and difficult access that any second trimester abortion is.  This is a subject I've already explained at length in a previous blog post, so I won't rehash it here.

In the end, sex-selective abortion should remain legal because abortion, or the removal of a unwanted pregnancy, should remain a choice between a woman and her doctor.  An unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of how much information a mother has about it.

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