Thursday, April 29, 2010

Well over 40 percent of the world’s annual births are occurring in countries where a girl is far less likely to be born than a boy. For more than 30 years, “son preference,” a euphemism in societies where ultrasound scans commonly are used to find female fetuses for the purpose of aborting them, has silently created a demographic crisis for the modern world. How is it possible that “100 million ‘missing’ girls,” a recent headline from the Boston Globe, could happen without major institutions and organizations worldwide mobilizing to fight it?

Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist, raised the alarm about missing women in a controversial 1990 article in the New York Review of Books. Mr. Sen began with the simple observation that deadly discrimination against women must be occurring because women live on average several years longer than men, but they are a minority of the population in many countries. In a 2003 British Medical Journal article that highlighted the role of sex-selection abortions, he admitted to having missed the key fact that the principal driver of missing women was discrimination before rather than after birth.

Even earlier, philosopher Mary Anne Warren wrote “Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection” in 1985. This new term, “gendercide,” that Ms. Warren coined derived from genocide but with the distinction that the killings are targeted at one sex. Amazingly for a person explicitly alarmed about massacres based on gender, Ms. Warren’s view is that “there is great danger that the legal prohibition of sex selection would endanger other aspects of women’s reproductive freedom.” Her radical abortion rights position makes her unwilling to stand up for the lives of unwanted unborn women, and she is not alone among feminists.

In 2007, a resolution condemning sex-selection abortion was proposed at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It had broad support and obviously was addressing discrimination against women. Imagine my surprise and that of many others when the powerful women’s rights nongovernmental organizations at the U.N. lobbied hard and successfully to kill the resolution, thanks totheir allies inthe European Union and China. The principal feminist talking point in the corridors was that this resolution was a “tactical move” by the pro-life lobbyists at the U.N. and the right to abortion must not be limited in any way. Surely one would have thought common ground could be achieved by feminist and pro-life groups on the topic of the sex-selection abortion of unborn girls?

Many would agree that no social movement can long survive a fundamental betrayal of its reason for existing. The case for feminism is combating discrimination against women. It is an act of incredible hypocrisy for influential groups and leaders in a movement that claims to defend women to choose unlimited abortion over fighting to save millions of unborn girls targeted for death every year for the “crime” of being female.

Most people are just waking up to the gendercide of a generation of Asian women, but when they start asking the hard questions about how this was allowed to happen, institutional feminism will be hard-pressed to explain its actions.

Joseph Meaney is Human Life International’s director of international coordination.

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