One month ago my wife and I did something that would be illegal in some parts of the world. We had our third child and for the third time we had a girl. It was one of the most joy-filled moments of our lives but for millions of parents having even a second or sometimes first daughter is an impossibility. In China, India, and other parts of the world girls are unwanted. They are viewed as having no value to the government and little value in society or even to their own families, and the result has been widespread gendercide, the systematic and deliberate destruction of girls typically through abortion though sometimes through infanticide.
Some estimates say the world is missing over 200 million girls thanks to the practice of gendercide. Most of those come from China and India where they eliminate more girls every year than America has births. Since 1979 China has had a one child policy and boys are the preferred of the two choices for mostly economical reasons. The government penalizes families monetarily for having more than one child and also takes part in forced abortion and forced sterilizations if the women don’t take care of it themselves. This obviously has created an unbalanced male population and some of the side effects have been increased child abuse and sex trafficking.
In India the government officially frowns on gendercide yet they turn a blind eye to it. They outlawed using ultrasounds to determine gender because it led to so many abortions of girls. However, they ignore the fact that the practice still goes on. One study of 8000 abortions in India, for example, showed that 7999 of the aborted babies were girls.
In India the problem is plain economics for families. Arranged marriages work in a way where the parents of the bride have to pay a large dowry to the parents of the groom. Having boys creates wealth while having girls diminishes it. The girls who do manage to live often are born into a family that rejects them. In fact, one of the most common names for girls in this situation in India is a Hindi name that means “unwanted”.
The once ignored problem of gendercide is just starting to get attention in media, culture, and even among a few politicians. In fact, a new documentary was recently released called It’s A Girl that looks at sex-selective abortions and infanticide of girls in depth. The movie is a heartbreaking expose and painfully declares that the three most deadly words in the world are “it’s a girl.”
The film is sparking a growing conversation in America. The filmmaker has even screened the film to feminist and pro-choice groups in hopes to get everyone unified against gendercide. But we should take this conversation a step further. We should be asking if the elimination of female babies in other nations can teach us about abortion right here in America. I believe by asking some important questions about the commonalities gendercide shares with abortion in America we might all learn something. In fact, I offer up five thought provoking questions about what international gendercide can teach us about abortion in America. The answers to these questions might just make most pro-choice Americans question how they can support abortion in America while being against gendercide elsewhere.
You may find the first question and quote along with it a bit disturbing.
5. If gendercide is wrong then why is abortion in America also promoted to poor and minority communities?
Gendercide affects all incomes, but it is felt hardest among the poor and minority communities in many parts of the world. Poor families in India will become more poor when they try to marry off their girls but wealthier if they marry off boys. So you see increased gendercide among the poor and traditionally lower caste minorities in India.
In China men carry on their family’s wealth and are expected to take care of their family as their parents grow old. There is no social security from the government, so the only real retirement security is sons. Therefore, poor families desperately need their one government-allowed child to be a boy and not a girl. If the legal one child is not a son then it could lead to utter ruin for the poor in their elder years.
In America, abortion is also connected to being poor or a minority. According to the pro-abortion funded Guttmacher Institute, even though African-Americans make up only 12% of the population, they account for 30% of abortions. Hispanics make up for 16% of the population but 25% of abortions. And other minorities make up another 9%. These are a pro-abortion group’s numbers. The unbiased CDC’s numbers are even a little higher. Therefore, at least 64% of all women getting an abortion in America today are minorities. And while non-Hispanic white abortion rates are decreasing, abortion among black and Hispanic Americans is continuing to go up.
Abortion is also linked to poverty. A whopping 42% of women obtaining abortions live below 100% of the federal poverty level. Another 27% live at only 101-200% of the poverty level. So more than 2/3 of all American abortions are obtained by poor women. And in the last decade when abortions dropped in America by 8%, they actually grew by 18% in poor communities.
Of course abortion providers like Planned Parenthood target their facilities in both poor and minority communities. It’s a little disturbing that Planned Parenthood’s founder is Margaret Sanger who was a proponent of eugenics. She believed in eliminating the poor and minority communities in America through contraception and sterilization. And today Planned Parenthood is targeting those very communities with abortion services (though they obviously reject that it has anything to do with eugenics). It’s no wonder while abortions have decreased in America the last few years that Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers continue to go up.
In 2005, CNSNews’ Randy Hall wrote about his research on the location of Planned Parenthoods: “In nearly two-thirds (62.5 percent) of the comparisons, the communities with a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic had a higher percentage of blacks than the state did as a whole.” It appears big abortion business is purposefully focusing on poor and minority communities. One of the reasons international gendercide is disturbing is that it unfairly affects the poor and minorities. Well, abortion in America has that same problem. Shouldn’t we be disturbed by the fact that so many of the children we are losing are from these communities?
The next question is related to this one when it comes to economics.
4. If gendercide is wrong then why is low income or lifestyle hardship an acceptable reason for abortion in America?
The vast majority of Americans agree that sex-selective abortion is wrong. A 2006 Zogby poll revealed that 86% of Americans believe abortion based on gender is wrong. Even pro-choice groups will declare they are anti-gendercide. But why does gendercide exist? Why do families or governments kill off the girl babies in these countries? Is it because they just hate girls? Or is the main reason actually economics?
Well we know that economics is a huge, if not the main, reason for gendercide. If a Chinese couple knows they have no financial security in their old age without having a boy then their choice to abort babies is really based on economic hardship. In India, poor families will only become more poor with girls. Boys lead to wealth. So financially, aborting girls keeps these parents from poverty. Girls equal poverty, and that is really why we see so much sex-selective abortions. To put it simply, these mothers can’t afford to have a baby girl. So why is gendercide wrong if it helps these families financially? And if it is still wrong, then why is abortion right if the main reason people give for having an abortion is economics?
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, at least 3/4th of abortions are obtained by women who say they simply can’t afford having another child. And if you add in other reasons women give like inconvenience, pressure from parents/others, job issues, and more; the number is actually much higher. So, by far, the number one reason for abortion among American women, and this comes from a pro-abortion research group, is economics. Keep in mind, unlike China and India, America has social security, America has welfare, America has Medicaid, and countless charities and organizations exist to help the poor. The poor in America are rich compared to the poor in China or India. So if gendercide is wrong when gendercide exists because of financial burdens, isn’t it fair to argue that financial burdens are no excuse to allow abortion in America? If girls shouldn’t be killed in China or India because they make families poor, then should girls and boys be killed in America because they make finances a little tighter for American parents?
The next question is all about human equality.
3. If gendercide is wrong then why is aborting babies with potential special needs right in America?
Remember, almost 9 in 10 Americans believe that abortion based on gender is wrong. Why? Girls do not have less intrinsic value than boys. The most left-wing feminist or progressive will loudly declare that you shouldn’t abort girls (or boys for that matter) because you think they are of less value as a human being. In fact, the term “gendercide” was coined by American feminist Mary Ann Warren in the 1980s.
Warren was a devout pro-abortion activist and writer. She died three years ago, but spent the last 30 years of her life defending abortion, yet she understood the evils of gendercide and was one of the first people to write about it. She wrote:
“Gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as “gynocide” and “femicide,” have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But…sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice.”
So Warren believed gendercide was wrong because it eliminated boys or girls (usually through abortion mind you) based on gender roles, racism, religion, or economics. The idea was that all humans are equal. So to abort or kill a girl or boy based on perceived inequalities is just wrong.
I wonder what Warren would say about the prevalence of aborting children in America with potential disabilities or handicaps today. Aren’t those with disabilities or special needs of equal value to all humans without physical or mental so-called handicaps? If the answer is yes, then how can we allow the genocide of such children in the womb in America today?
Today’s medical technology has given parents the ability to test and see if there is a strong likelihood that their baby may have some form of disability or special needs. The result of such technology has led to a startling number of abortions. We don’t have all the statistics, but where we do the numbers are startling. There is an 80-95% abortion rate of children who are predicted to have Down Syndrome. Another example is that in Northern California, Kaiser Permanente has admitted that when parents learn their child probably has cystic fibrosis there is a 95% abortion rate.
It is quite easy to see similarities between India and China’s view on girls in the womb and American views of the disabled in the womb. While the most dangerous words in South and East Asia are “it’s a girl,” in America they’re “your baby might be born disabled”. I previously discussed these issues with Marc Sherman, Program Director for AccessABILITY Center for Independent Living, Inc. Sherman has been diagnosed with C5/C6 quadriplegia himself. He made the clear connection between international gendercide and American abortions of the disabled:
The disabled have rights just like women or minorities. (It’s the) same as if these parents wanted to abort a child because of gender or race. It’s the same thing as in China where you have women aborting children because they are females and not males.
Sadly many parents who are told that their child may have a disability are even encouraged to abort. What we are seeing in this country is a new form of eugenics. Doctors and medical staff often urge moms to abort their potentially disabled children because they are seen as less desirable. And we’ve even seen parents win multi-million dollar lawsuits, because they weren’t told their child was disabled and they missed their opportunity to abort their now living child.
In 2003 a Gallup poll revealed that over 55% of Americans believe abortion should be legal if the reason is physical or mental impairments. Such a view says that the disabled have less value. It’s the exact same reason gendercide exists elsewhere. And if it’s wrong with gendercide then how can it be right for the disabled?
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The next question is the most disturbing of all.
2. Did you know gendercide exists in America today and abortion providers allow it?
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and featured in the film It’s A Girl, bluntly told the Washington Times last month, “Gendercide is happening in many places all over the world, including the United States.” Obviously we do not see gendercide in the millions like in India and China, but it is shocking to realize that it appears to be happening at least in the thousands here in America.
You may be surprised to know that though almost 9 out of 10 Americans oppose gendercide, it is legal in the United States. You can abort based on gender in almost every state, and there is no federal law against it (though recent attention is leading to new laws at least being introduced).
Part of the reason for gendercide in America appears to be because of increased immigration of Chinese and Indian women into America the last thirty years. One recent research article showed there are at least 2,000 missing women specifically in California from gendercide. Most of these sex-selective abortions came from Chinese and Indian women in California between 1991-2004.
A major growing area for sex-selective abortions is with IVF (in vitro fertilization). It is becoming more and more common for clinics to have their customers pick out only male embryos and discard (kill) the female embryos. It is impossible at this point to know how many embryos have been destroyed because of parents desire for one gender over the other. It is interesting to note though, that it appears the vast majority would choose males over females, and that this will become a growing problem in America. As one Duke law report reveals:
One survey reported that 34% of geneticists stated that they would perform sex selection for families seeking to have a son, and another 28% said that they would refer the couple to a doctor who would. Dr. John Stephens’s clinics in California, Washington, and New York, already offer couples the opportunity to undergo prenatal testing for sex selection. Twenty-five percent of American couples surveyed have said that they would utilize these sex selection techniques. And although Western societies attitudes towards women differ significantly from other parts of the world, the demand for male offspring is still apparent with 81% of men and 94% of women stating that they would desire to ensure their first child was a boy.
Last year, the pro-life group Live Action did an undercover video expose showing multiple Planned Parenthoods helping patients figure out how to get abortions based on gender. Lila Rose, the founder of Live Actions responded, “The search-and-destroy targeting of baby girls through prenatal testing and abortion is a pandemic that is spreading across the globe. Research proves that sex-selective abortion has now come to America. The abortion industry, led by Planned Parenthood, is a willing participant.”
Here is a video of one such example:
Planned Parenthood says they don’t agree with sex-selective abortions officially and fired the employee in that Live Action video, yet they promise they won’t judge women who get them and will be happy to provide the service. The Huffington Post reported that response in an interview with a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman last year:
This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
If our nation clearly stands against gendercide, then we should be weary of the fact that it is a growing problem in America. We should support legislation outlawing it, and we should question why America’s biggest abortion providers aren’t condemning the practice in their own clinics.
We should also question why more on the Left aren’t standing up against gendercide, and that leads to the final question.
1. Why aren’t more American feminists and progressives standing up against gendercide?
Gendercide should be one of those rare issues that we can all agree on, and we do in theory but not in practice. Most American feminists and progressives either remain silent or even slip up and sound supportive of gendercide at times. Why? It may be because they too realize the very links mentioned here that international gendercide shares with abortion in America.
In the summer of 2011, Vice President Joe Biden took an official trip to China. He spoke at a university and then made a public statement of support for the one child policy in China which of course has led to gendercide in China. He said:
“Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second guessing – of one child per family.” – Biden
Of course the VP would later backtrack on that statement, but I think it revealed something in the heart of some on the Left. If they want to be consistent with their pro-abortion views then they can’t speak too loudly against gendercide. In fact, they may even agree with certain parts of it.
One of the biggest tells on the Left’s desire to support abortion no matter what links can be seen with gendercide is found in a recent Slate article by Sital Kilantry. Kilantry realized a lot of pro-choice groups and progressives were responding positively to the gendercide documentary It’s A Girl. Kilantry picked up on the clear connections of gendercide and abortion, so he decided to try to stop progressive and pro-choice groups support of the film.
Kilantry in his Slate article It’s a Trick is very frustrated that pro-choice groups haven’t caught on to the “pro-life message” that “is subtle enough” that they almost “got away with it”. He notes that the filmmaker is pro-life and has worked with pro-life people before and therefore, Kilantry believes, the message and the film should be rejected. He warns pro-choice and liberal groups to stay away from this film even though he admits there is nothing overtly pro-life in the movie.
So what’s wrong with the film? Kilantry recognizes that the connections from gendercide to abortion in America are there. And it scares him. And he warns other Liberals that it should scare them. And therefore, according to Kilantry, progressives and feminists should even stand against anti-gendercide legislation in America. He writes:
“Although no one supports sex-selective abortion, pro-choice groups correctly worry that such laws could be misused to restrict abortion more broadly.”
And there you have it. Those who proclaim they are committed to helping the poor, women, and the abused are choosing to be silent on a problem that hurts the poor, women, and the abused. Why? Because it’s hard to defend abortion while being against gendercide. And they are right. If you are truly anti-gendercide then you really have to begin to question how you can be pro-choice in America.
Time will tell if the pro-abortion Left can continue to silence or at least lesson public outcry against gendercide and specifically sex-selective abortions. As our world continues to grow smaller and we learn of more injustice in other nations, we may just wake up to some of our own injustices right here at home.
LifeNews Note: Paul Cooper writes for Pajamas Media, where this column originally appeared.