Since 1990, approximately 15.8 million girls in India have been denied the right to be born because of sex-selective abortion and other forms of prenatal sex selection, according to a report from the Population Research Institute. In India today approximately 111 boys are born for every 100 girls, a clear indication that sex-selection is commonly practiced.
More horrifying still, a recent Indian government report shows that none of the 216 births recorded in 132 villages from a northern Indian district are girls, leading local officials to suspect female foeticide. Of those, 16 villages have not recorded a single female birth since the beginning of the year, according to the district’s magistrate Ashish Chauhan.
The increasing desire for smaller families is one cause of ongoing sex selection. For instance, women in India in 1970 had about 5.6 children on average, but by 2018 they were having just 2.3 children on average over their lifetimes. This has meant more women resort to sex-selective abortion to achieve their desired family composition.
The government of India has also long promoted population control policies which limit family size, and thus fuel the practice of prenatal sex selection. Several states in India currently have two-child policies that prohibit civil servants from having more than two children (Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Bihar).
The practice of sex selection is commonly associated with poverty and countries where women do not have equal rights.
But could increasing access to late-term abortion, something a number of countries or states are in the process of legislating for, lead to increased acceptance of sex selection around the world? After all, people such as the UK's most prominent IVF researcher, Lord Robert Winston, have taken a strong stand as a supporter of social sex selection. And the desired family size is not just shrinking in India – it is a worldwide phenomenon. The worldwide fertility rate is now just 2.4 and falling.
The increased destruction of young girls would be a depressingly ironic consequence of giving grown ‘feminist’ women greater access to so-called ‘reproductive rights’. Shockingly, many places do not even keep reliable abortion statistics which might help prevent against the practice.
For instance, New South Wales is currently pushing through new late-term abortion legislation, with abortion on-demand up to 22 weeks. Any reason will do, including sex-selection, no questions asked.
So is New Zealand, with legislation for abortion on demand up to 20 weeks currently making its way through the House. The new legislation also makes it much easier to get abortions after this time up until the time of birth than is currently the case.
Increasingly, much less stands in the way of women who wish to abort based on the gender of their baby, revealed to them normally at the standard 20 week scan (though sophisticated ultrasound technology now makes detailed 3D pictures of babies in the womb available to women much earlier too should they wish to pay for them).
Is paving the way for consequences like this what feminists really want?
Shannon Roberts is co-editor of Demography is Destiny, MercatorNet's blog on population issues.