“I’m going to kill my baby girl.” Sex selective abortion and Patriarchy by the back door.

“your navel string was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor swathed with bands. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born”.  Ezekiel 16:4 

A ‘Pro-Choice’ feminist may find it difficult to argue for any restrictions against the woman’s right to an abortion. In arguing for any restrictions, surely we are going against the ‘woman’s right to choose’? Surely, though our intentions may be good, our actions will be seeking to restrict the rights of women? I suppose so yes. But, I believe this stance is far too superficial, and, as feminists, if we really do care about the rights of women, we must understand the much greater evil of sex selective abortion, and look for ways, perhaps even counterintuitive to a pro choice stance, that we can really protect women, and protect unborn baby girls, something that I shall attempt to, if briefly, do here.

I consider the modern feminist movement to be too confined by what I regard as a rampant culture of extreme choice; modern liberal feminism fetishizes the woman’s right to choose, it instead is opening the door to much greater evil. It may not be immediately obvious, but, in reality, I think, arguing fervently for pro choice, and for sex selective abortions, we actually are ushering in Patriarchy and oppression by the back door.

According to United Nations statistics, there are 100 million ‘missing girls’ around the world[1]. 100 million women that were denied the chance to life for the most selfish of principles; that they were not a boy.

For the most part, this culture of sex selective abortion is limited to countries such as China and India. However, it is fundamentally wrong to believe that these abuses of women’s rights do not happen in the West. United States Census data shows that sex selective abortion is, worryingly, a growing problem in America.[2] A problem in its thousands.

Firstly, to believe that sex selective abortion may genuinely be the woman’s choice is wrong. In reality, their partners force many women into these decisions, especially within non-white ethnic groups within America, where the prevalence of sex selective abortion is much higher[3].

The majority of Americans are against, and favor banning, sex selective abortion. In fact, H.R.3541, a bill passed by the 112th Congress of The United States of America, has banned discrimination against unborn life on the basis of sex and race[4]. The chilling reality is, however, that this practice still happens.

Activist groups in The United States such as Live Action have uncovered proof that the abortion industry in America, characterized by Planned Parenthood, actually still allows for sex selective abortion to go ahead[5], the organization itself continues to lobby for the repeal of the bill, and for sex selective abortion to be allowed.[6] The fetishizing movement, in fervor to push for ‘more choice’, in fact, is opening the door for women’s oppression. It’s not coming from the government, it’s not coming from the ‘Pro-Life’ lobby, no, instead, this is coming from the very organizations that should be protecting the rights of women.

To me, the issue we come to is this, all that a bill or any legislation may prevent is the parent stipulating abortion based on that of sex selection as a reason for their termination. That is not to say that the parent, knowing the sex of their child, may choose to have an abortion based on sex selection, and instead state another reason for it. As feminists, we must understand the greater evil at play here. We must look for a viable method that sex selective abortion can be stopped.

But how?

I do not believe that doctors should not tell the parent the sex of their child. I believe that it is a parent’s right to know the sex of their child, so that they can make preparations for the birth. Perhaps a system could be introduced that, once knowing the sex of your child, (if you choose to be told) then abortion may no longer be permissible? The issue for this, of course is how that could ever be enforced, how would a clinic ever know that a parent knew the sex of their child?

To me, surely the only legitimate way that sex selective abortion can be stopped is by a tightening of the restrictions to abortion? If, from the earliest, 12 weeks[7] (The end of the first trimester of development), the child’s sex is apparent, then, in a profound wish to stop the abuse of the system, and the undefined area where sex selective abortion can be all to easily practiced, we must conclude that the best course of action is to disallow abortion after the end of the first trimester?

I know that this suggestion will be unpopular. I know that many people will be appalled to the idea of such a stringent restriction. But ask yourself this, if you do not believe in sex selective abortion, if you agree with me that it is the greater evil, and if you want to legitimately find a way in which it may be stopped, is there really any other tenable way?

About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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