Congress: U.S. Does Less to Stop Sex-Selection Abortion Than China

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2012   |   3:34PM   |   Washington, DC

Members of Congress are debating legislation today that would ban sex-selection abortions in the United States.

In bills related to abortion, members of Congress sponsoring the legislation frequently include findings that lay out the case for the bill and provide additional insight into the minds of lawmakers when passing legislation should it be litigated in court.

In the findings of the bill to ban sex-selection abortions, members of Congress make the case that the United States, technically, does less to stop sex-selection abortions than nations like China and India, where the reprehensible practice is common.

Sex-selection abortions are not expressly prohibited by United States law or the laws of 47 States. Sex-selection abortions are performed in the United States. In a March 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Columbia University economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund examined the sex ratio of United States-born children and found ‘‘evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage’’.

The data revealed obvious ‘‘son preference’’ in the form of unnatural sex-ratio imbalances within certain segments of the United States population, primarily those segments tracing their ethnic or cultural origins to countries where sex-selection abortion is prevalent. The evidence strongly suggests that some Americans are exercising sex-selection abortion practices within the United States consistent with discriminatory practices common to their country of origin, or the country to which they trace their ancestry.

While sex-selection abortions are more common outside the United States, the evidence reveals that female feticide is also occurring in the United States.

Despite the failure of the United States to proscribe sex-selection abortion, the United States Congress has expressed repeatedly, through Congressional resolution, strong condemnation of policies promoting sex-selection abortion in the ‘‘Communist Government of China’’. Likewise, at the 2007 United Nation’s Annual Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, 51st Session, the United States delegation spearheaded a resolution calling on countries to condemn sex-selective abortion, a policy directly contradictory to the permissiveness of current United States law, which places no restriction on the practice of sex-selection abortion. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has urged governments of all nations ‘‘to take necessary measures to prevent . . . prenatal sex selection’’.

Countries with longstanding experience with sex-selection abortion—such as the Republic of India, the United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China—have enacted restrictions on sex-selection, and have steadily continued to strengthen prohibitions and penalties. The United States, by contrast, has no law in place to restrict sex-selection abortion, establishing the United States as affording less protection from sex-based feticide than the Republic of India or the People’s Republic of China, whose recent practices of sex-selection abortion were vehemently and repeatedly condemned by United States congressional resolutions and by the United States Ambassador to the Commission on the Status of Women.

Public statements from within the medical community reveal that citizens of other countries come to the United States for sex-selection procedures that would be criminal in their country of origin. Because the United States permits abortion on the basis of sex, the United States may effectively function as a ‘‘safe haven’’ for those who seek to have American physicians do what would otherwise be criminal in their home countries—a sex-selection abortion, most likely late-term.

Despite the fact that sex-selection abortions are likely happening in the United states, one leading pro-abortion group opposes efforts to ban them.