Friday, October 16, 2009

Time of Day

I caved. I did something I very rarely do, or even enjoy doing. I read an anti blog.

Just a bit!

Now, unlike many of the trolls who haunt The Abortioneers, I have no interest in upsetting myself by indulging for no particular reason in anti beliefs that I oppose. I don’t have time for that! But, as The Abortioneers have recently experienced an increase in anti traffic, I decided to have a look-see in search of intellectual or original thought. I do, in fact, believe that pro- and anti-choice folks alike can learn from each other; I’m sure no minds would change, but I’m not opposed to alternative perspectives every once in a while. Much to my surprise, I came across a number of fair questions and observations that served as a kind of respite from the tired anti jargon and hackneyed turns of phrase. In this post, I will address those musings that I found to be truly thought-provoking and inspired by a genuine desire to learn and engage in dialogue. Just a few to begin with:

1. What about sex-selective abortion?

An abortion is considered “sex-selective” if the primary reason for termination concerns the sex of the fetus; upon determination of sex in the second trimester, the mother decides that she would rather have a baby of the opposite sex and terminates the current pregnancy. This practice is not so common in the Western world, in which (relatively) equal social status is conferred upon both sexes. Certain Asian countries, however, have experienced substantial imbalances in birth rates of boys and girls, largely in favor of boys, due to sex selection. While we may scoff at this from our cushy sofas, it is critical to consider the contexts in which sex selection occurs. Take China as an example. The one-child policy, like it or leave it, prohibits most women from bearing more than one child. Each pregnancy really has to count for a family. Imagine! There is an intense amount of political pressure to get it right the first time, and because males are generally favored in education and employment, it is not surprising that many couples would abort a female pregnancy and try for a male the next time around. Again, imagine! Imagine the degree of inadequacy that many women must feel in a society in which whatever assets she has in life, no matter how sufficient, could be far surpassed by her son. The self-loathing and internalized inferiority of women who would sooner have ten abortions than a daughter. As a woman myself, I can’t picture my future without a little girl in it. But on the other side of the world, millions of women feel exactly the opposite. Often times, there is little to be done.

Sex-selective abortions are usually sociocultural phenomena, and I think it’s important to check the ethnocentrism when thinking about it. You may hear of handfuls of anecdotal sex selection cases in the U.S., but these are certainly not the norm. If anyone believes that this is a pervasive problem in our society, they may just be reacting to hearsay. Even in countries where sex selection is prevalent, like India, women’s rights groups have rallied against this practice, arguing that it undermines women’s societal value and intentionally dilutes the female population. Additionally, China’s one-child policy is and has been under scrutiny by human rights groups. Overall, I would not argue that sex selection is something that women strive for. It’s not like rolling dice until you get snake eyes; it’s a serious issue, particularly since elective abortion is often not available in the second trimester. Sex selection is, by and large, a product of inveterate cultural institutions that value men over women. It’s not an institution to be demonized so much as one to be understood and reconciled with human rights issues.

I can cite a number of interesting PEER-REVIEWED articles on the subject if anyone is interested. Hell, I'll even provide full text.

2. What kind of normal person would perform second trimester abortions?

None. Abortion docs, first tri or late term, are anything but normal. They are forerunners, they are fighters, they are feminists, they are fearless, they are few-and-far-between, they are lots of other things that begin with the letter f (alliteration not intended – really!). Above all, they are friends. Friends of women who need their help. Regardless of whether or not you consider abortions helpful, patients of abortion doctors do. And to these women, their providers are not normal people. They are heroes! Which leads me to my final topic…

3. You think abortion helps people, but maybe it hurts them too.


Beg pardon?


  1. ...I love you. Seriously. Especially wrt #1. God, I can't believe how many people think that's an argument against reproductive freedom. When obviously it's an argument against SEXISM. Reduce the gender discrimination that leads to sex-selective abortions, and you reduce sex-selective abortions.

  2. Dammit, R already said, "I love you," cause that was my comment, too.

  3. I'm so sorry the Antis found you! My condolences. May their lake burn soon...


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.