Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Any Fix for Sex-Selective Abortion Would Be Discriminatory, Unethical, and Futile

Well, now at least we seem to have some decent research on sex selective abortion in Canada.

Previous studies indicated that it might be happening in "some communities," but there were quibbles about methodology.

This seems solid.

It’s the clearest evidence yet that abortion is being used to help parents have a son. A study has found that some Indian-born immigrants to Canada are selectively aborting female fetuses if they have already had two daughters. The researchers say, however, that action may not be necessary as the incidence is low, and the practice is likely to go away on its own as immigrants become settled.

Link to full study.

Yes, it's happening in Canada, but as we've said many times before: So what?

There is still zero evidence that the practice is skewing the sex ratio in general.

And if it is skewing the ratio in "some communities," we say again: So what? Parents who prefer boys may get a comeuppance when their precious sons bring home girlfriends (or boyfriends [!]) from other ethnic backgrounds.

But look at the hand-wringing going on. The normally sane Toronto Star has an unusually sensational piece about it.

Even my fave Matt Galloway of CBC's MetroMorning got into the "abortion is terrible" meme, trying really hard to get one of the study's authors to call the results "troubling."

And while We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head was ready with his SHRIEK!!!! (Title: Government needs to end pre-natal discrimination against women) and because somebody had to do it, Amateur Statistician asks WHERE ARE THE FEMINISTS????, it is very disappointing that mainstream media would prefer to point fingers and tsk-tsk.

(Other fetus freak sites are no doubt still working up their dudgeon.)

Also, this issue conjures up a disgusting stew of misogyny and racism. DO NOT read comments.

As an antidote, read this piece from the eminently sensible André Picard (from 2012) about the complexities of the issue.

Here's the thing: any attempted "fix" will be discriminatory, unethical, and futile.

Refuse to reveal sex of fetus until it's too late to abort? How exactly? Refuse to disclose all pregnant patients' own information? Or just "some" patients?

What about sex-related genetic disorders? Will we force people to carry blighted pregnancies to term because we're up in arms over possible sex-selection?

And it will all be futile because there are home sex-test kits, highways and airplanes, and unethical ultrasound technicians.

The only way to "fix" this is to value girls and women as we do boys and men.

That's a helluva long-term project, but it's the only way.

From New Scientist again:
In India, male preference has led to a shortfall of millions of female children, so strict legislation was necessary. But in North America, the problem is small and likely to resolve itself as immigrant communities become more integrated. “My suspicion is that in the second generation you would not notice this phenomenon at all,” [Anil Deolalikar, economist at the University of California] says.

Past DJ! posts on sex selection.

ADDED: Dr Brian Goldman weighs in and comes to the attention of Dr Jen Gunter, newly dubbed "Twitter's OB/GYN."

This won't be pretty. :)

UPDATE April 13/16: Here is Dr Jen Gunter's response to Dr Goldman. Ouch!

Something Dr Gunter mentions that I -- and most other commenters on this subject -- have not is: multiple pregnancies in the quest for a male child. Since we know that pregnancy is 14 times more dangerous than abortion, why does no one consider the risk of multiple pregnancies for the "good" women who do not seek abortion?

UPDATE April 14/16: Yesterday, CBC's The Current ran an informative and hopeful segment on this issue, demonstrating how complex it is.


Beijing York said...

Good coverage as always, Fern. I caught the piece on The Current and thanked the sky goddesses that it was a sober and informative approach to covering the story. If I recall, the fact that sex selection abortion accounts for minimal numbers was reinforced over and over again. Phew!

fern hill said...

Minimal numbers in North America. BIG problem in China and India. Fascinating and horrible real-world experiment in the effects of patriarchy.

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