Legacy of Population Control: 163 Million Missing Women

Opinion   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Aug 3, 2011   |   4:19PM   |   Washington, DC

163 million women are missing from Asia.  That is the entire female population of the United States. 

The culprit is sex selective abortion according to Mara Hvistendahl’s fascinating book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.  Hvistendahl is not pro-life nor is she Catholic, but that is what, I believe, makes this book courageous.  Of course in typical pro-choice fashion, she refuses to address the facts of when human life begins, but she does tackle the sacred cows at the root of the devastation that now faces Asia: widespread abortion and the population control movement of the West.

What I loved most about this book is that it goes beyond the typical reasons why Asians are aborting their girls in record numbers.  We know they have a preference for boys and China has a one-child policy.  But Asia has always prized their sons and only China has a one-child policy. Yet all over Asia, in the last few decades, millions of girls have gone missing.

Why?  Hvistendahl makes a compelling case that the Western world shoved population control down the throats of Asians and presented sex selective abortion as the “ethical” means to do it.  The typical arrogant and fearful Western minds thought they had to control the growth of Asian populations and reasoned that if Asians kept having children until they got a boy, then providing sex selective abortion was the answer.  They could just abort all their girls until they got a boy and then they would be happy with only one child.  Hvistendahl writes:

Some population control advocates realized that using sex selection for population control might create a world where women might have to be locked up or forced to marry multiple men or traded like commodities but this was acceptable conditions to fight over-population.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, the United Nations and even Disney told couples all over Asia that they had to limit their family size or their children, and the rest of the world, would suffer.  China took up the baton and implemented their one-child policy.  This “reeducation” took the form of forced sterilization, forced contraception and even forced abortion.  One sign in China read:


Eventually, decades later, the coercion was no longer needed and families are now voluntarily limiting themselves to one child.  And with portable ultrasounds and legalized abortion, they can ensure that one child is a boy.  Now they are faced with the fruit of the population control movement that came from outside their borders: a world full of men unable to marry because their brides were aborted.

This abundance of unmarried men is not a small problem.  Unmarried men are more violent than their married counterparts.  Crime is now on the rise:

Between 1992 and 2004 China’s crime rate nearly doubled.  In India from 2003 to 2007 rape cases surged over 30 percent and abductions by over 50 percent prompting the government to unveil female-only trains.

And as women become more scarce, their value rises which one would think would mean that women would be treated better.  But the exactly opposite is true.  Women have become commodities to be bought and sold.  Parents all over Asia are guarding their girls against kidnappers who would sell them to rich families who want to guarantee a future bride for their son.  Women are routinely kidnapped and dragged across boundary lines to be forced into the sex industry.  Poor families, who could not afford sex selective procedures are selling their daughters to rich families who could.  Some women are bought to be a wife to several men, usually brothers, a practice called polylandry.  Sex selective abortion ensures that women are born only to poor families and then are treated as commodities. Hvistendahl points out the ugly truth:

In this scenario, we are left with a reality in which gender divides along income and class lines, and women go from being born to being born into poverty.

And where are the feminists?  The champions of women and their reproductive rights?  They are mostly silent.  They championed choice and now that choice is being used to kill millions of female fetuses and subjugate women, they have nothing to say lest the sacred abortion cow be slaughtered.  The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) thinks honor killings and domestic violence are more important issues than the killing of millions of women. Hvistendahl boldly declares:

In a world in which women are unnaturally scare, the right to abort will be the least of our worries.

Now Hvistendahl would argue that abortion is still a right.  She believes there is a difference between aborting to not have a child at all and aborting to not have a girl.  She would argue that it is the access to technology like ultrasound and lax enforcement of laws against sex selection that is the problem, not legalized abortion.  I disagree.  Ultrasounds are not inherently immoral.  Without legalized abortion, they would be simply a way to peek inside the womb at the life growing inside.  It is the abortion that is killing millions of female fetuses.  If killing a female fetus is wrong then surely killing any fetus is wrong as well.

Hvistendahl falls into the same trap as the population control advocates did in the 60s and 70s.  They thought that they could control the evil they inflicted on Asia because it was for the “greater good.”  Abortion is evil and we cannot control its devastating effects.  We cannot dance with evil, expecting to confine it to a nice waltz, and then wonder why we are suddenly being trampled in a crushing mosh pit.

All in all, I applaud Hvistendahl for her work so far and recommend reading her book.  She has done a great service linking the gendercide going on in Asia to the population control movement.  I hope she takes that final step and realizes that abortion is far from the liberator of women that feminists say that it is.  Abortion is the greatest deliberate killer of women in the world today.  The sooner the women of the world wake up, the better our lives will be.

LifeNews.com Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).