4 distortions from backers of legal sex-selection abortion

Smoke and mirrors.

Live Action released two videos last week showing Planned Parenthood staff agreeing to set up late-term abortions for the purposes of aborting a baby girl because she was not the preferred gender.

In response, Planned Parenthood announced that they had already fired one of their employees involved and that they denounce sex-selection abortions (although would continue to perform them as part of their “non-judgmental care”). In Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Clinic in New York, they stood by their employee who agreed to a sex-selection abortion, saying that non-judgmental counsel had been rendered.

The push-back to the videos from Planned Parenthood defenders in the media boiled down to a few main faulty arguments:

1) Denial that sex-selective abortion happens in the United States

“There is no issue with sex selective abortion in this country”Open Editor’s Pick Article

“Sex-selective abortion is a problem worldwide, but not in our country” – Michelle Goldberg, Daily Beast


In a study by Columbia University researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund, they report, “We document male-biased sex ratios among U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents in the 2000 U.S. Census.”

And the abstract for a 2009 study published in the American Economic Journal by researcher Jason Abrevaya reads:

We offer evidence of gender selection within the United States … The observed boy-birth percentages are consistent with over 2,000 “missing” Chinese and Indian girls in the United States between 1991 and 2004.

Visual representation of abortion clinics willing to provide sex-selection terminations. Photo by Live Action artist Jennie Stone.

The Guttmacher Institute, which was founded as a research division on Planned Parenthood declared that “some evidence – although limited and inconclusive – to suggest that the practice may occur among Asian communities in the United States.”

Even NARAL Pro-Choice acknowledge in a May 30th e-mail to supporters that “sex-selection abortion is a real problem – and it needs to be addressed.”

Sunita Puri, a resident physician in internal medicine at UC-San Francisco, wrote in Slate (a Washington Post Company publication) that:

… sex selection isn’t something that only happens in foreign countries like India or China. It happens in the United States, too, as I learned in my six years of interviewing patients and physicians on the topic.

So is sex-selection abortion happening on a massive scale in the United States? No. But does the research data point to it happening thousands of times here? Yes. To deny that it is occurring is simply putting ideology over science.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s public statements show that they plan to continue to offer sex-selection abortions in unlimited quantity. Thankfully, millions of people in the United States don’t want to do gender-based terminations, but if there was such a demand, Planned Parenthood has said they would not turn a single person down.

In denying sex-selection abortion in America, Planned Parenthood defenders disgrace the thousands of little girls killed by this practice. Is slavery an outrage only when millions are enslaved? Is murder an outrage only when millions are killed? Gendercide of little girls becomes an outrage when the first life is lost, not the millionth. Sexism is sexism no matter the scale. An assault on the dignity of one little girl is an assault on us all, and in this case, it is assault at least in the thousands.

2) Calling the investigation a fake

Laura Bassett, writing for the Huffington Post, called Live Action’s project “a hoax investigation,” and the far-left media group Media Matters called it the “latest video hoax.” What is a hoax? The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes a hoax as “an act intended to trick or dupe” or “something accepted or established by fraud or fabrication.”

But where is the falsehood here?

Live Action clearly states that its agents are using a reporter to investigate Planned Parenthood and are not intending to actually carry out a sex-selection termination. How does that change the video findings? It doesn’t.

If the Live Action video is a hoax, then every undercover police sting is a hoax as well. NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” should be accurately labeled a “hoax” program as well if we follow the Huffington Post’s logic.

Why is the term “hoax” used exclusively here with this investigation? The video is accurate and undoctored. Anyone can go on Live Action’s YouTube channel and watch the full, unedited clinic visit, from walking in the front door to walking out. Even Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast recognizes this point, writing that “to its credit, Live Action also has posted a seemingly unedited version of the video on its website.”

In calling the video a “hoax,” the Huffington Post and Media Matters are engaging in deceptive campaign to trick the public into thinking the videos are not genuine recordings. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and the absence of even an attempt to justify the label of “hoax” diminishes the credibility of Media Matters and Huffington Post.

 3) Ignoring science

“[T]he vast majority of abortions are performed before gender is detectable[.]”
– Media Matters

“[S]o few abortions in the US occur after the 20th week that even if every single one of them were the result of sex-selection, only 1.5% of pregnancy terminations would occur at a time when sex selection was even possible.”
– Erin Gloria Ryan,  Jezebel


The Intelligender Gender Prediction Test, which is available at stores like Walgreens and Amazon, works as early as 8 weeks after fertilization according to its instructions. The product-maker’s website boasts that in initial laboratory trials and in two subsequent independent trials, it was 90% accurate.

While not as conclusive as a sonogram, this technology means that gender termination decisions can be made in the first trimester. Jezebel’s and Media Matters’ lack of knowledge about current scientific abilities has led them to make inaccurate statements in service to Planned Parenthood instead of the truth.

4) Ignoring research

The distortion here comes from Michelle Goldberg. Research by Mara Hvistendahl in her Pulitzer Prize finalist book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, puts the total at 163 million females “missing” from Asia alone. And the Wall Street Journal, in its review of Hvistendahl’s book, highlights how abortion is the main driver:

By Ms. Hvistendahl’s counting, there have been so many sex-selective abortions in the past three decades that 163 million girls, who by biological averages should have been born, are missing from the world.

Claiming that abortion and infanticide have killed at least 100,000,000 girls is no distortion, as one of the world’s leading researchers on the topic attests. If Goldberg wanted to correct “distortions,” she would be well-advised to start by analyzing her own work.

On one point I do agree with Ms. Goldberg. She proclaims that “sex-selective abortion is odious[,]” and with that I wholeheartedly agree. I hope she and other backers of legal sex-selection abortion see that odious sexism against girls won’t stop without first addressing the behavior of America’s sex-selection accomplice, Planned Parenthood.

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