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Birth Rights: Gender Selection April 23, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health, Public Health.
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PGD, fertility, human rights, infanticide, abortion

Who gets to live?

Gender selection for the purposes of eliminating genetic disease or family balancing remains controversial. Not just an option for abnormal genetic screening results, is it another step in population control, gendercide, and the war on women?

The world’s highest population countries remain China (1.35B) and India (1.2B). These and many other countries have traditionally placed greater preference on male offspring, and have instituted population control measures over the last several decades. The manner in which the policies are enforced is physically and socially horrific. As gender selection for birth abnormalities became more common in developed nations, many couples now seek it out to choose their baby’s gender if for no other reason than “family balancing.” Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) virtually guarantees successful gender selection of embryos. X-chromosone-linked diseases are identified in vitro and the undesired embryos removed, for indication of genetic disease. Or not.

China

Held-over beliefs from Confucianism enabled continuation of the practice of female infanticide and abandonment in China long before the 1978 “family planning” law was enacted, allowing one child per couple. (Occasionally now in rural areas, if the first-born was female, two children may be granted.) This has created a nation of five decades of “missing girls” and an extremely lopsided sex ratio. Population estimates show 111 million Chinese men currently unable to find a wife, secondarily spurring an increase in human trafficking of Chinese girls. It is calculated that 21 million children are born each year and the female portion is missing due to institutionalized killing or neglect. Baby girls are drowned, poisoned, starved, or carted to orphanages where 90% of them will perish as will any record of them having ever existed. Pregnancy in China must be approved and if a subsequent pregnancy is discovered, the mother, now criminal, is captured for a forced abortion procedure usually in late-term, also causing a spike in maternal mortality.

One investigation into an orphanage, or “dying room,” found,

…a lame girl sitting on a bench…her leg swollen with gangrene. Then crying was heard from a nearby cot. Underneath the blanket was a tied bundle of cloth, a girl was found. Upon unswaddling her, the last layer being a plastic bag, she laid in urine and feces. The next cot was the same, and the next and the next. Many children had lesions where the string wrapping them had cut into their bodies. All the non-handicapped children in the orphanage were girls. A response from the Chinese government reads, ‘The so-called dying rooms do not exist in China at all. Our investigations confirm that those reports are vicious fabrications made out of ulterior motives.’ As a result of the documentary The Dying Rooms (1996), American families have adopted over 35,000 Chinese girls, more than any other nation.

India

Described as the “heartland of sex-selective abortion,” India’s Hindu practitioners readily agree that many unwanted female children are “done away with.” Most Indian women are not able to be independent agents of their own destinies, but victims of a long-standing social ideology which prefers sons. Families must provide for the daughter while she is growing up, knowing once she marries, a large dowry will be required and she will become of service to the husband’s family. Formally outlawed, the dowry practice is still pervasive.

The combination of dowry and wedding expenses usually add up to more than a million rupees [US $35,000]. In India, the average civil servant earns about 100,000 rupees [US $3,500] a year. Given these figures combined with the low status of women, it seems not so illogical that the poorer Indian families would want only male children.” Murders of women whose families are deemed to have paid insufficient dowry have become increasingly common. -Female Infanticide and Feoticide.

India is expected to surpass China in population by 2030 as a result of it’s “less successful” family planning policy. Nevertheless, 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

U.S.

The west, being more advanced, tends to use our ethnocentric values to judge other cultures, and often realign them with ours. In no case would we view infanticide is acceptable family planning. Yet, we tout the ability to Choose The Sex of Your Unborn Baby Now! at a high cost and for reasons much more frivolous than poor quality of life of millions of girls and women around the globe. Steven Pinker’s article, “Why They Kill Their Newborns,” notes that we are much more tolerant of killing newborns than older children as seen in the lenient two-year sentencing of Amy Grossberg who threw her infant into a dumpster against the outcry and harsher life sentence of Susan Smith for killing her 14-month and 3 year-old children.

Even American-born baby girls are “sacrificed by the tens of thousands,” according to Steven Mosher of Population Research Institute. A Columbia University study found a disparity between the number of males and females born in certain Asian and sub-Asian populations within the US.

Do you call it abortion, neonaticide, or infanticide? Some people call it the gravest, largest holocaust on earth. Do you see gender selection for non-genetic reasons as morally wrong? For whom? I’d like to know.

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Comments»

1. Janice Flahiff - April 24, 2012

Thank you Amy. Well written.


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