Will Not Telling Baby’s Sex Stop Sex-Selection Abortions?

Opinion   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Jan 17, 2012   |   2:31PM   |   Washington, DC

I have four children. With three of them, I found out their gender at my routine 20 week ultrasound. From the moment we discovered that our child was a boy or a girl, my husband and I began referring to our unborn baby by his or her name.
We prepared the older siblings for the impending birth of the new baby by using his or her name. We even signed our unborn child’s name in family correspondence. Finding out the gender of our children was a choice we made because we thought it better prepared the whole family for the life that was going to join us. Other families make other choices. Some like to be surprised. I admire their patience. That just was not us.

There was nothing inherently wrong with finding out the sex of our children. It would only have been wrong if our intent was to abort based on gender. Sex-selective abortion is a hot topic these days. Ever since Mara Hvistendahl courageously brought it to the attention of the world in her ground breaking book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, the devastation of sex selective abortion has been in the consciousness of both sides of the abortion isle. New legislation introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2011 would ban abortions in the United States if the abortion is based on the gender or race of the fetus. In this legislation, it would be the abortion provider that is punished for knowingly providing an abortion based on race or gender. I think this is a good first step.

And while I am encouraged by the attention sex-selective abortion is now receiving, I am troubled by some other suggestions on how to curb the practice. Some would like to prevent sex-selective abortion by preventing couples from finding out the sex of their child in utero. It makes sense: if the results of an ultrasound are the reason some couples abort, then limiting access to the information in the ultrasound is the solution.

And yet this “solution” disturbs me because it is like rearranging the furniture and picking up the dung all the while ignoring the giant elephant in the room. It is the abortion that kills not the information gathered in routine ultrasounds. Without legalized abortion, the ultrasound would simply be a way to find out more about the life growing inside the womb. It is legalized abortion that makes finding out the gender, or any other information about a fetus, lethal.

As a pro-life community, we could call for the restriction of access to the information uncovered by prenatal testing as the way to deal with sex-selective abortion. If we go down that road we will likely have some strange company. Namely pro-abortion feminists who would rather restrict information from ultrasounds than the procedure that does the actual killing, abortion. Even after her expose of sex-selection in Asia, Mara Hvistendahl remains “pro-choice” suggesting that it is not access to abortion that is causing millions of Asian girls to go “missing” but instead the access to cheap ultrasound machines.

In India it is illegal to find out the sex of your unborn child. This is a response to widespread abortion of female fetuses as families limit their size, an allowed reason to have an abortion in India. It has not worked. In some districts, sex-selective abortion is as rampant as ever. This approach to curbing sex-selection by restricting gender information from prenatal testing has not worked in India and it will not likely work in the West. The only way to protect girls in the womb is to protect all life in the womb. Abortion is the problem and it is the abortion that needs to remain our focus.

I am for protecting the life in the womb in anyway possible. If we decide as a pro-life community to attack sex-selective abortion by restricting access to the information revealed in prenatal testing then we must do so with the understanding that for the majority of couples there is nothing inherently wrong with finding out the sex of an unborn child. While we chip away at the evils of abortion, we need to stay focused on where the evil lies, in the deliberate killing of innocent life. We must not forget to keep our eye on the prize: an end to all abortion, sex-selective or not.