Sex-Selection Abortion

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Gendercide: The systematic killing of girls.

When it comes to sex selection and gendercide, most people think of China, India, and other cultures that are known to prefer boys over girls. But studies show that this unethical practice is happening right here in America.

The ripple effect is destroying girls, with human trafficking and violence on the rise.

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Sex-selection abortion is defined as “an abortion undertaken for the purpose of eliminating a child of an undesired sex.” Sex-selection can also be achieved through sperm-sorting and embryo-selection during the process of “assisted reproduction.” However, sperm-sorting and embryo-selection are expensive and not widely available; therefore, most sex-selection takes the form of abortion.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen estimated that as early as 1990, approximately 100 million women were demographically missing worldwide due to sex-selection abortion, female infanticide, and other such practices. Current estimates now put that number at 200 million missing women and girls globally.

U.S. Census data and national vital statistics show that indeed, sex-selection is a growing problem in America. Americans are employing sex-selection techniques in their reproductive decisions. A review of census and birth records by Professor Jason Abrevaya of the University of Texas showed that Americans have sex-selected thousands of baby girls.

Sex-selection abortion represents the most violent form of discrimination against women, victimizing two women at one time: mother and daughter. Many women are forced or coerced to have sex-selection abortions, and their daughters suffer the fatal consequences.

Although 9 out of 10 Americans oppose sex-selection abortion, abortions based on gender are neither illegal nor uncommon in our country. Many other industrialized countries have either restrictions or a ban on sex-selection, yet the United States does not – despite our continuous condemnation of other countries that permit the practice.

The mission of Protect Our Girls is to raise awareness on the issue of sex-selection abortion and to call for a nationwide ban on sex-selection abortion in the United States. This campaign focuses on bringing an end to sex-selection abortion in America and around the world.

Additional Resources

Studies

  • PNAS Study: “Son-biased sex ratios in the 2000 United States Census,” Almond and Edlund, Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesA natural boy:girl birth ratio is 1.05:1. Among children of Chinese, Korean, and Indian Americans, first children showed normal sex ratio, but the ratio increased to 1.17:1 for second children if the first child was a girl, and to 1.51:1 for third children if the first two children were girls. If there was a previous boy child, the sex ratios for subsequent births remained natural.
  • Columbia Study: “Are there missing girls in the United States? Evidence from birth data,” Abrevaya, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. We offer evidence of gender selection within the United States. Analysis of comprehensive birth data shows unusually high boy-birth percentages after 1980 among later children (most notably third and fourth children) born to Chinese and Asian Indian mothers. Based upon linked data from California, Asian Indian mothers are found to be significantly more likely to have a terminated pregnancy and to give birth to a boy when they have previously only given birth to girls. The observed boy-birth percentages are consistent with over 2,000 “missing” Chinese and Indian girls in the United States between 1991 and 2004.
  • University of California-Berkley Study
    Dr. Puri is a resident at UCSF who has spent six years studying sex selection abortion in the United States, with an emphasis on South Asian populations. In interviews with 65 South Asian women seeking sex selection services, she found that 40% of them had aborted prior female fetuses and 89% of them aborted the baby girls they were currently carrying.In a 2009 study, Dr. Puri compared the attitudes of primary care physicians and sex selection providers towards the practice, and found primary care physicians to be much less accepting. Replace “sex selection” with “abortion” or “birth control” in this abstract, and the results are very telling:Primary care physicians and SSTPs had distinctly different perceptions of the ethical concepts of autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence as applied to sex selection. Sex-selection technology providers argued that sex selection was an expression of reproductive rights, was initiated and pursued by women, and was a sign of female empowerment that allowed couples to make well-informed family planning decisions, prevented unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and minimized the abuse of wives and/or neglect of children.In contrast, PCPs challenged the concept of “family balancing” and questioned whether women could truly express free choice under family and community pressure. In addition, PCPs voiced the concerns that sex selection technologies led to invasive medical interventions in the absence of therapeutic indications, contributed to gender stereotypes that could result in neglect of children of the lesser-desired sex, and were not a solution to domestic violence.

Polls

  • The Lozier Institute poll, May 2012: 77% of respondents said that they would support a law banning abortion in cases where “the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.”
  • LifeCanada poll, October 2011: Conducted by Environomics Research, showed that 92% of Canadians thought that sex-selection abortion should be illegal in Canada.
  • Zogby poll, March 2006: Found that 86% of Americans believe that an abortion performed because of the sex of the developing child should be illegal.