By Dave Andrusko
When pro-lifers—and even some pro-choicers—try to do something about sex-selective abortions, the refrain is that there are no abortions taking place based on a preference for boys over girls. When the evidence is produced, opponents switch gears: it’s “racist” or sexist to point to the demographic data that such gender-specific abortions are a feature of some cultures that historically have had a strong preference for boys.
There is an ongoing and ever-more intense debate in Great Britain, fueled by an uncover investigation by the Daily Mail that conclusively demonstrated that there are abortionists who will abort when told the mother wants a boy rather than a girl. Last week the House of Commons voted to “clarify” that it is not legal under the 1967 Abortion Act to abort a child on the basis of gender.
Just prior to last week’s debate, the Daily Mail reported that an Oxford University study demonstrates that whereas the overall ratio for women of all backgrounds is 104 boys to 100 girls, the ratio for Indian mothers having their third child was 114 boys to 100 girls.
“Lead author Sylvie Dubuc said the figures suggested that, on average, about 100 baby girls were missing from the birth register every year during the study period [1990-2005],” according to Daniel Martin. “Her research casts doubt on a government-commissioned study which found there was no evidence of sex-selective abortions in this country.”
Rani Bilkhu works with Jeena International. She told of the cultural pressure that British Asian women, as well as those born in South Asia and married to men in the UK, were under to have sons.
Bilkhu told the BBC:
“We have a high rate of women coming to us and saying, ‘We are being threatened and coerced to having abortions – we are being thrown down the stairs.’ Once this bill comes out, we can then make sure communities understand that it is illegal to abort on the basis of gender.”
This whole discussion sidesteps the overriding point: girls can be aborted because they are girls because of technology—ultrasounds. This is underlined in remarks made by a United Nations official, as reported by Nita Bhalla for the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
The headline of Bhalla’s article is “Abortions of girls spreading in Eastern Europe like an ‘epidemic.’” Whereas “For many years, we have been looking at son preference and sex selection from a point of view that has very much concentrated on the cases of India and China,” said Luis Mora, chief of the gender branch at the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), in the last few years the highest rates of sex selection globally “were in Caucasus region, along the European-Asian border between the Black and Caspian Seas,” because of access to technology.
The irony that UNFPA—which has historically been up to its institutional eyebrows in support for coerced population control policies in China, included forced abortion and coerced sterilization—could hit upon the truth illustrates that, indeed, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.
India and China are no longer the exceptions, Mora said. “We have seen how discrimination, son preference and all the related issues have progressively expanded to countries we never before thought could practice sex selection, such as the Eastern European countries.”
In her story Bhalla cites an August 2013, study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In Armenia and Azerbaijan “more than 115 boys are born for every 100 girls, and in Georgia the ratio is 120 males for every 100 females,” she wrote. Without sex-selective abortions, the typical ratio is 104 boys for 100 girls.
“As a result, the UNFPA estimates that in countries such as Armenia, nearly 93,000 women will be missing by 2060 if the country’s high pre-natal sex selection rate remains unchanged,” Bhalla concludes.