That’s the question raised by Slate writer Emily Bazelon. The premise Ms. Bazelon puts forth is that the growing movement to make sex-selective abortions illegal in the U.S. is based on racial biases towards Asians, who come from cultures where sex-selective abortions are most common. Bazelon states,
The International Human Rights Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum are publishing a new study that exposes banning abortion based on sex-selection for what it is: a way to restrict abortion, not to combat gender discrimination. The study looks at a large and recent data set (called the American Community Survey) and concludes that foreign-born Asian-Americans and Indians don’t have birth rates that skew toward boys. Actually, “Asian Americans have more girls than white Americans.” So much for a “widespread” suspect ethnic practice.
More truth-busting bits from the study: India and China aren’t the worst places in the world for skewed sex ratios at birth. That distinction goes to Liechtenstein and Armenia, followed by Hong Kong and Azerbaijan. Also, after Illinois and Pennsylvania banned abortion for sex-selection in 1984 and 1989, the ratios of boy to girl babies didn’t change—in other words, the law had none of the effect for which it was supposedly intended.
ThinkProgress goes even further, calling such legislation in the U.S. “a solution in search of a problem.”
There is no epidemic of sex-selective abortion among the AAPI [Asian American or Pacific Islander] community, and passing legislation to “fix” this nonexistent issue simply ends up damaging women of color. Ultimately, these laws scrutinize Asian American women based solely on their race.
At National Review Online, Chuck Donovan does a tidy job of showing this type of work for what it is: utter nonsense.
The ploy is clever in its way, but ultimately absurd. Sex-selective abortion bans would evince racial prejudice if they were applied solely against a racial group or were reflective of a belief that only certain racial groups would engage in such a practice. But the history and evidence of the development of sex-selective abortion and related practices show persuasively that they arise not as a result of beliefs inherent to a single nation or ethnic subgroup, but rather from traditions of son preference exacerbated by draconian population-control policies that limit family size by edict of the state. Population control on the scale of the People’s Republic of China’s one-child policy helped create the world’s largest instance of gendercide.
I took a look at the study cited by Bazelon. The first two sentences read: “Sex selection is the practice of attempting to control the sex of one’s offspring in order to achieve a desired sex. One method of sex selection is sex-selective abortion.” If this is the type of “logic” this study puts forth, the University of Chicago and the others involved are in big trouble. There are many methods of attempting to produce a child of one gender or another. Abortion is not one of those methods. Abortion does not produce a child of a specific gender; it produces a dead child. Abortion is not a method of sex-selection.
It is estimated that about 163 million girls worldwide have been aborted since the 1970s because of their gender. Because of this, demographics are skewed in many countries. This results in more men being unable to find a wife, increased crime rates, and “a small but still significant group of the world’s women will end up being stolen or sold from their homes and forced into prostitution or marriage.”
It is a sham and a shame that Salon, ThinkProgress and the authors of this study are crying “racism” about the banning of sex-selective abortions. The ongoing war on women (including human trafficking, spousal abuse, and laws that disallow women the most basic of rights) begins very early. The image of a girl shows up on an ultrasound, and a decision to abort is made. It has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with gender. If women who support abortion and the rights of women want to be truthful, they will decry this practice as the most elemental form of abuse against women.
In Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg examines economic culture - the values and institutions that inform our economic priorities - to explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called "soft despotism", and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States.