When people think about the women’s rights movement, they usually think of the right to vote. In Canada, that was taken care of in 1918 when women were given the same voting rights as men (Munroe). Most people would probably say that nowadays men and women are equal—they both can have the same jobs, they both can vote, and, overall, they have the same rights. However, men and women are not equal in today’s society. We need a new women’s rights movement because girls are being killed simply because they are girls. This is far worse than not being able to vote, yet no one wants to even talk about this issue. The government wants to ignore the issue and will not even discuss it. Even though one of the most fundamental arguments of the pro-choice movement is women’s rights, the abortion of girls because they are girls is a complete violation of women’s rights. Women’s rights and gender-selective abortion cannot truly coexist because gender-selective abortion abuses the rights of women. By opposing this practice, pro-lifers can protect women’s rights by giving girls and boys an equal chance to survive.
Woman’s rights and gender-selective abortion cannot truly coexist because if a person makes a distinction between a male and female in an important decision and chooses the male solely because he is male, he risks ignoring women’s rights. Any time a person makes a decision based on gender and not circumstances or qualifications, he is in danger of violating the rights of women. If an employer was looking for a new employee and a man and woman both applied for the job, and the employer chose the male just because he was a male even though the woman was more qualified, it would be discrimination against the woman. How much more discriminatory is it if a child in the womb is chosen to be aborted because she is a girl? This is more than just a violation against women’s rights—this is gendercide. Gendercide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of baby girls, typically through sex-selective abortion and infanticide” (“Gendercide: The Systematic Killing of Girls”).
Girls are being killed just because they are girls, yet the pro-choice activists say that they are fighting for women’s rights. One pro-choice activist says, “The state should trust these women to make the right decisions for their own lives and their own bodies. It should grant them the right to choose how to handle their own reproductive health. . . . Until women have the right to determine what they will do with their own bodies, they will never be equal” (Miller). This individual argues that women will not be equal with men until they have the right to decide what to do with their pregnancies. However, there are two main problems with pro-choice activists using “women’s rights” as a platform. First, women do have the right to choose what to do with their bodies without abortion ever coming into the picture. Their choice comes when they agree to have sex, not afterward. Second, the “right” to have an abortion is being misused. Since girls are being killed because they are girls, abortion is what is causing a violation to women’s rights, not laws against abortion. The very thing that pro-choice activists are fighting for—abortion—is violating women’s rights and is contrary to their platform. Mara Hvistendahl, pro-choice author of the book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, states, “After decades of fighting for a woman’s right to choose the outcome of her own pregnancy, it is difficult to turn around and point out that women are abusing that right” (150). Pro-choice activists say that women will not be equal with men until they have abortion rights, but in reality, men and women will not be equal until people stop killing girls because of gender. This is the largest abuse against women’s rights possible.
Another reason women’s rights and gender-selective abortion can never truly coexist is that the woman having the abortion acknowledges that the child, or fetus, as she would probably call it, is a female, and she is killing the child because of that fact. The woman having the abortion and the doctors doing the abortion all know that this child is being killed just because she is a girl. This alone shows that women and men are not equal in today’s society. The sole reason that this woman does not want the child to live is that the child is a girl. The woman wants this child never to have a chance at life, never to exist outside the womb, simply because she is a girl. The reason for the abortion is not that she could not support the child or take care of it. It is just that she is a girl. If the child had been a boy, he would be allowed to live. This shows how girls are being seen as less valuable or less important than boys.
Pro-lifers can effectively oppose gender-selective abortion by standing up for the little girls in the womb. Ninety-two percent of Canadians already believe that sex-selective abortion is wrong and that it should not occur in Canada (Somerville). Many people in Canada would not have a problem with gender-selective abortion being made illegal. They just have to be made aware of the issue and that it is, in fact, occurring in Canada. Pro-lifers need to talk to people about gender-selective abortion and let them know it is taking place in Canada and around the world.
Gender-selective abortion is a problem around the world. In order to combat this issue, pro-lifers need to make people aware of the negative effects gender-selective abortion has on societies. The government does not want to touch the issue, but if it was made aware of the negative impacts gender-selective abortion can have, the government might be willing to at least discuss the issue. Many of the negative effects of sex-selective abortion on society come as a result of “surplus men.” These are men who cannot marry because there are not enough women. This results in men going to great lengths to find women. “As the first generation touched by sex ratio imbalance grows up, the silent biological discrimination that is sex selection has been exacerbated by more visible threats to women, including sex trafficking, bride buying, and forced marriages” (Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection, 15). As it becomes more difficult for men to find a bride, they many start buying or bidding for them. “Men in wealthier countries poach women from poorer ones” (Last). Also, another result of a high male to female ratio is that risks of violence increase. “Today in India, the best predictor of violence and crime for any given area is not income but sex ratio” (Last). These are some of the effects of sex-selective abortion that even someone who agrees with abortion would want to avoid and would know were wrong. These are effective arguments to use with people who believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion and who do not believe that abortion is murder because these people would be able to acknowledge that even if abortion is okay, sex-trafficking and increased violence are not. This is how pro-lifers can oppose sex-selective abortion in a world that sees nothing wrong with abortion.
Around the world, gender-selective abortion and female infanticide are targeting girls, resulting in 200 million missing women and girls globally (“Gendercide: The Systematic Killing of Girls”). In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls (Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection, xiii). However, around the world, this ratio is being skewed as a result of sex-selective abortion. In India, the ratio is 112 boys born for every 100 girls, and in China, the number of boys is 121 for every 100 girls (Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection, 5). There are several reasons families do not want girls. In some countries, girls are not wanted because the cost of a dowry is so expensive. One Indian clinic put out an ad saying, “Better 500 rupees now than 500,000 later,” when referring to the price of a sex test versus the cost of a dowry (Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection, 49).Other explanationsfor why boys are wanted are that sons stay in the family and eventually take care of their parents in their old age, as well as that certain ancestor and funeral rites can only be performed by the male children (Hvistendahl, “Where Have All the Girls Gone?”). Also, people often reason, “Well, I only want two kids so definitely we have to have one girl and one boy” (Shaw). This means that if a girl is the first child, any other girl conceived will be aborted so that a couple can have one boy and one girl.
Sex-selective abortion and women’s rights can never truly coexist because sex-selective abortion discriminates against women. It does not attest to their rights, but against them. Pro-lifers can oppose sex-selective abortion by letting other people know that it is occurring, as well as letting people know the negative effects of a society with surplus men. Pro-lifers need to stand up for girls since being a girl should not be a reason to kill.
“Gendercide: The Systematic Killing of Girls.” ProtectOurGirls.com. Live Action, 2012. Web. 13 Apr 2013. <http://protectourgirls.com/learn/>.
Hvistendahl, Mara. “Where Have All the Girls Gone?” Foreign Policy. Washington D.C., 27 Jun 2011. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/06/27/where_have_all_the_girls_gone?hidecomments=yes>.
Hvistendahl, Mara. Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. Print.
Last, Jonathan. “The War Against Girls.” The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 24 Jun 2011. Web. 27 Apr 2013.
Miller, Merrill. “Trust Women: Abortion is an Individual Choice.” NOW’s Blog for Equality. N.p. Web. 27 Apr 2013
Munroe, Susan. “Canadian Election Firsts.” About.com. N.p. Web. 13 Apr 2013. <http://canadaonline.about.com/cs/elections/a/electionfirsts.htm>.
Shaw, Ruth. “I Survived Sex Selection.”
Defend Girls Blog. N.p., 04 Mar 2013. Web. 4 May 2013.
Somerville, Margaret. “Somerville: Why We Should Talk About Sex-Selective Abortions.” Calgary Herald. N.p., 27 Mar 2013. Web. 27 Apr 2013. <http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/Somerville should talk about selective abortions/8154813/story.html>.
Miss Jeanne Oord
is a student at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.