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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When Choice is Selective - Preferring Male Children

Writing the title of this blog was painful because babies should be accepted and loved just the way they are conceived.  

It's totally incomprehensible to me that women could make sexual preference choices to have abortions because, for whatever reason, one or another gender of the fetus is selected. This abortion procedure is rare, hopefully, but a bill in the US House will make it illegal.  One blog reader raised this issue in response to a recent Maine Writer post.

Abortion was once a strictly medical procedure, but became a political red herring for reproductive choice. Sexual preference procedures also appear to miss the problem of discrimination.  Selective abortions are a type of damaging eugenics where the gender of the fetus is subject to sexual discrimination.

Abortion is never an acceptable alternative to responsible family planning or contraception, but it's horribly abusive when accessed because of sexual selection preferences.  

Millika Kaur writes in the Washington Post how sexual discrimination abortions devalue women because the procedures are largely performed because of a preference for male babies.

Justifiably, a blog reader raised awareness about this horrible practice following a post I wrote about women religious who appear to have moved beyond lecturing about abortion to work on more social issues relevant to ordinary people.  

Joe in Bangor Maine writes:

" (Julie)...surely agree with you re: the Nun's following Jesus with their (social justice) efforts but you make a comment that is truly sad... 'moving beyond' killing unborn o.k. with you Julie? How about sex selection of the unborn? Perhaps many of those selected to be UNSELECTED would be unborn females who would grow up to be 'feminists' but they won't ever have the chance will they Julie? Sorry to hear how casually you treat abortion with such phrases as "moving beyond abortion! Still your friend but disappointed. Joe"

In fact, the US Congress is addressing the preference issue in the prenatal nondiscrimination act (H.R. 3541) and a focus of public hearings. 

Morality notwithstanding, this legislation, unfortunately, is more about politics than procedure.  

My experience as a nurse has created my opinion about abortion - women who chose this option are almost always in a position of desperation, sexual preference procedures included.  This doesn't make abortion acceptable, under any circumstances. Nonetheless, sexual discrimination abortions reinforce the issue raised by Kaur, because women who choose this procedure, usually, do so because they feel the pressure of real or perceived desperation- and it's always the woman who makes this sadly devastating choice. Women who chose abortions out of desperation cannot be judged based upon their actions alone, but by whatever dire circumstances led to the decision.

When a woman chooses abortion, it's almost always when a serious situation is evident, like intractable poverty, severe anomalies with the fetus, the pregnancy is the result of rape or because a public policy (tragically) might devalue the sex of the baby (as in China's one child policy).  Therefore, although Kaur is correct to raise awareness about the devaluation of women in sexual preference  abortions, even this reason is, usually, the result of desperation. Women in China, for example, given the requirement of having only one child, become desperate to conceive a male.  

In other words, in a world where men and women are truly socially equal, there's no reason whatsoever for sexual preference abortions.  Therefore, the legislation under consideration to ban this procedure in the US should be totally irrelevant- presuming equality exists.  Otherwise, what's the point? 

Roe vs. Wade, a law which, at least, keeps women who choose abortions out of prison, should become unnecessary as better, cheaper access to reliable contraception are available. Over the counter contraception should be available for women, like condoms are sold in men's public restrooms.

When it comes to reproductive choice and abortion, the core solutions are not more laws to eliminate sexual selection, but to provide women access to health care and contraception for the purpose of family planning. Equality between the sexes would eliminate sexual preference abortions - so, a law to ensure equal pay for equal work would help solve this dilemma and mitigate a need for HR 3541.

Regarding my post on women religious who devout their lives to social justice beyond abortion, they undoubtedly abhor sexual selective abortions.  

We love and prefer our children just the way they are conceived.   



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