The practice of sex-selective abortion is more widespread than commonly thought. While China and India are well known for this, it now turns out that it happens in many countries.
“Gendercide in the Caucasus,” was the title of an article in the Sept. 21 edition of the Economist magazine. It described how if there is no interference normally 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. In Armenia and Azerbaijan the ration is, however, 115/100, and in Georgia it is 120.
The ratio becomes even more unbalanced if the first child is a daughter. The imbalance has become more prevalent due to the greater number of ultrasound machines available in the last couple of decades.
A recent study published in the June edition of Population and Development Review examines the situation. In “The Implementation of Preferences for Male Offspring,” by John Bongaarts, it acknowledges that in many societies there is a traditional preference for sons, but that also in recent years ultrasound machines and methods of contraception have reinforced this tendency.
As of 2010 China emerges as the country with the highest imbalance, at 119 boys for 100 girls. India comes in at 108, but a number of states have ratios exceeding 110.
The methods used by families that prefer sons differ, Bongaarts explained. Contraception is more frequently practiced after the birth of a boy than for a girl. Sex-selective abortion is common, with 1.4 million abortions a year worldwide out of a total of an estimated annual total of 44 million abortions a year.
As for future trends Bongaarts observed that: “There is a wide pent-up demand for sex selection.”
Debate in England
Sex-selective abortion was recently in the headlines in England. Last year the Telegraph newspaper conducted a sting operation resulting in two doctors being recorded as agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions.
After a lengthy consideration in September the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced they would not be prosecuting the doctors as a “public interest test” had not been met.
“We seem to have a situation where, at the whim of the CPS, procedures that are clearly laid out in the Abortion Act can be completely disregarded by doctors and the NHS,” commented Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, in an article published September 4 by the Telegraph.
“This is contrary to the law. Parliament makes the law and the CPS should enforce it,” added Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre.
An article published September 7 by the Telegraph accused the CPS of having double standards, noting that while it refused to prosecute the doctors it had previously taken action against pro-life demonstrators.
The article described how the CPS approved the prosecution of two Christian pro-life campaigners for having displayed graphic banners outside an abortion clinic. The case was subsequently thrown out of court with District Judge Stephen Nicholls saying there was no case to answer. The article cited a series of other similar cases of action taken against pro-life people.
Disquiet over the CPS decision was not limited to pro-life groups. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared that he was concerned over the matter, according to the BBC on September 5. As well, Labour Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions requesting an urgent review of the decision.
Subsequently a group of 50 members of parliament sent a letter to the Attorney General saying that the decision was a “step back in the fight for gender equality,” the Telegraph reported September 14.
In America the U.S. House of Representatives heard evidence last month about gender imbalance in India.
Smith detailed his opposition to sex-selective abortion in an opinion article published September 16 in the Washington Times newspaper.
Tens of millions of women in India are missing due to sex-selective abortion and infanticide, he commented. While cultural factors have played a part in this, the population programs pushed by the United States, Planned Parenthood and the Population Council have had a significant negative impact on women, he said.
Evidence of this impact came shortly after when on September 28 Reuters described how in China police rescued 92 children and two women kidnapped by a gang for sale. “A traditional preference for boys, especially in rural areas, and a strict one-child policy have contributed to a rise in the trafficking of children and women in recent years,” the article said.
Yet, in the wake of the controversy in England over the decision by the CPS some women defended the “right” to sex-selective abortion.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, not only said that sex selection is not a problem in Britain, but that in any case women should have a right to abort on the grounds of gender, the London Times reported September 21.
Women defending the right to selectively kill baby girls: Yet, wasn’t one of the key arguments of the pro-abortion groups that abortion should be legalized to protect women and safeguard their interests?