Sex-selection abortions are an international problem — and the horrendous phenomenon is no more prevalent anywhere than in southeast Asia. There in nations like China and India, girl unborn babies are routinely aborted because cultural mores favor boys over girls. Vietnam, tragically, is no exception.
And it is there, in that formerly war-tor nation, where a wife kowtowed to the pressures of her husband and had 18 abortions of girl babies because he wanted a son. Finally, when she was pregnant with a boy, abortion wasn’t an option.
Sex-selection abortions in Vietnam have skewed the male-female gender ratio.
According to UNFPA, the sex ratio at birth (the number of boys born to every 100 girls) is becoming imbalanced. Part of the reason for this is the cultural preference for boys and the nation’s limit of only two children per family.
This has led to an incidence of sex-selection abortions and infanticides that are seen in other Asian countries where social norms are different from the industrialized West. It also leads to sex trafficking, child abandonment, and a society where men can’t find partners to marry and start families of their own.
The national sex ratio at birth as reported in the 2006 survey was 110 boys to every 100 girls, which slightly exceeds the expected ratio of 105-107 boys to every 100 girls.
Vietnam Television aired a story on Wednesday about a woman in the northern province of Hai Duong who had 18 abortions because her husband wants a son.
The story quickly spread on the Internet in Vietnam, where gender-based abortion is believed to be widespread.
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The woman, whose identity has been protected, said her life has been hard due to both poverty and the pressure of giving birth to a male child.
Her husband is the eldest son in his family and many families in rural Vietnam still stick to the age-old tradition that only sons can inherit and protect the family assets and values.
After the first four births of all girls, her husband was disappointed and she was depressed.
She decided to terminate all pregnancies unless it’s a boy.
After research has shown that the practice of sex-selection abortion has made its way from Asian nations to the United States, pro-life advocates are moving forward with legislation to ban sex-selection abortions that target girl babies.
Restrictions have also been placed on sex-selection abortion in countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
While the U.S. has no such restrictions, sex selection has increasingly becoming problematic.
“A 2009 New York Times story cited several studies showing that Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent retain a preference for sons and occasionally choose abortion because of it. And a 2011 article in Forbes reported on two abortion businesses located in areas of high Asian-immigrant populations that allowed researchers to interview their patients. According to the article, researchers found 89 percent of the women surveyed who were carrying girls aborted them. Half of those women said they had aborted girls before, and many of the women reported they were coerced into the abortion by threats of divorce and violence if they did not bear sons,” he explained.
So far, eight states – Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and North Carolina – have enacted laws prohibiting sex-selection abortion. Louisiana would be the ninth.