You might be surprised to find out where sex-selective abortion in China and other Asian countries began. A new book on sex-selection abortions, a practice The Economist magazine memorably labeled “gendercide,” examines the astonishing worldwide dimensions of this problem. What’s more, the book, written by a feminist author, demonstrates how a generation of Western population activists helped to create the sex-selection tragedy by advocating unlimited abortion and the targeting of female fetuses in the womb. Fueled by new and often beneficial technologies like ultrasound, the ability to identify sex before birth has become a death sentence for more than 160 million baby girls around the world, killed simply for being female.
In her new book, Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl examines the consequences of sex-selective abortion practices. Often linked to cultural preferences for sons due to their prospective earning power, sex selection abortion, Hvistendahl notes, is first practiced by wealthier families with the money to access technology and doctors. In China, the natural gender ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls has shifted to 121 to 100. In some places, it’s as high as 150 to 100 – climbing higher as women have a second or third child and experience more pressure to bear a son.
In a recent panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, Hvistendahl said that in the country of Georgia, the average woman has had four abortions in an effort to birth a boy instead of a girl.
While the problem is more acute elsewhere, Hvistendahl blames Western countries for promoting policies that put girls at risk. “We tend to think of this problem as something that happens in other countries…but high abortion rates are something [the U.S.] bears responsibility for,” Hvistendahl said. Organizations like Planned Parenthood and The Ford Foundation were early proponents of abortion internationally, and even sex selection procedures, when the population control panic heated up 50 years ago.
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