If you're pro-choice then you're in favour of sex-selective abortion

(73 Posts)

I read this piecein the Guardian and it really got me thinking. I've always been pro-choice but my knee-jerk reaction to the suggestion of sex-selective abortion was revulsion. I feel distaste at the idea that a woman could abort a healthy foetus purely because it has the "wrong" genitals.

But that's the whole point isn't it? Pro-choice means being in favour of a woman's right to bodily autonomy no matter what the circumstances or how distasteful someone else finds the idea. For some reason that had never fully occurred to me before. blush

I'm sorry if this seems glaringly obvious to everyone else! It's just something I hadn't fully considered before, and I doubt many people IRL would be keen to discuss this.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 14:41:48

>If you're pro-choice then you're in favour of sex-selective abortion

the more I think about it the more it seems like a false premise.

No, I'm not in favour of sex-selective abortion. Any sex/gender discrimination is wrong.

Yes, I support a woman's right to choose.

The problem is the circumstances which make sex-selective abortion something a woman would choose. I don't blame the women who are essentially coerced into having to abort female foetuses, but that does not make me 'in favour' of what happens. Many of these women are in reality not given the right to choose, they are not being allowed to choose against termination. The 'right to choose' surely means to choose either way.

specialsubject Fri 20-Sep-13 14:46:46

tricky one. I think I have to come down on free access to abortion, although those who select on grounds of gender without medical reason are not really fit to have more children.

but better that than an unwanted baby being born.

the cultures that are aborting female babies are going to die out in a few generations - it is already happening because lo and behold, this means there are too few women to breed the next generation.

Playing devil's advocate, Errol, what about a woman who wants to abort a male foetus in hopes of conceiving a female? I know it's very unlikely and Daily Mail ish but where would you stand then?

I think the problem I'm having with all of this is that if you ban sex-selective abortion then you're forcing a woman to carry a foetus to term and give birth. As I've said before, I find the idea of this type of abortion extremely distasteful to say the least, but I find the idea of forcing a woman to carry and bear a foetus/baby she doesn't want even more repugnant. (That’s assuming there's no coercion, of course. Which when it comes to cultural issues is difficult to say).

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 15:12:11

Not sure TBH. My answer might be similar to yours but with the 'more repugnant' on the other side.

Suppose there were genetic tests available (probably illegally) for various traits such as IQ or height or hair colour ... what would you say to a woman who didn't want the baby she was carrying on that sort of basis?

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 15:26:00

I am pro choice but absolutely anti sex selection abortion. If they are doing it for that reason they shouldn't have a child full stop.

That’s a good question Errol. My visceral response is that it shouldn't be allowed, just as it was about sex-selection - but again I come back to the problem that you'd be denying a woman control over her body.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 15:57:41

Maybe when you decide to have a child (in the case of sex selection she does want a child just not this one) you do have to accept that you may not have total control over your own body? You don't have total control of it after the birth, because you have to meet the needs of the child.

ModeratelyObvious Fri 20-Sep-13 16:03:08

Joyful, also, to be pro choice you don't have to be "in favour" of any reason for abortion. Hope this doesn't seem pedantic but you can wish and hope that every woman felt able to continue with every pregnancy, that there'd be sufficient financial support or whatever, but still support choice because the alternative is forced pregnancy and unwanted children.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 16:21:06

>to be pro choice you don't have to be "in favour" of any reason for abortion

yes, that's what I meant about it being a false premise. You can believe someone has a right to something without being 'in favour' of it. A better framing of the debate would be 'if you're pro-choice you are in favour of a woman having a right to sex-selective abortion'.

garlicbaguette Fri 20-Sep-13 16:28:37

I am pro-choice under all circumstances.

If a woman feels that having a girl baby is more dangerous/damaging/upsetting than aborting it, we should be condemning the forces that cause her to feel that way. Not the women herself.

Mumsnut Fri 20-Sep-13 16:32:12

Or are you denying a man control over his wife's body?, Joyful?

I reckon that's ofen the case, and it troubles me, I admit.

But then again, what would the little girl's quality of life be like if her mother were forced to carry her to term? Many baby girls are abandoned, even murdered in certain cultures.

Where I live they have started to deny people who they feel are at high risk of sex selective abortions (ie people of certain ethnicities hmm) the opportunity to find out the sex of their babies.

If you remove the racism and apply that to everyone then that might be a solution. What do you think?

Of course if there is a risk of genetic diseases etc. then they can be allowed by a doctor.

GetStuffezd Fri 20-Sep-13 16:56:22

For me, I simply believe that no woman should be forced to have a baby she doesn't want to have.
I may not like the reasons, but I will defend anyone's right to a free, safe abortion.

garlicbaguette Fri 20-Sep-13 16:56:30

They'd just claim to have a family history of some female-inherited defect hmm

garlicbaguette Fri 20-Sep-13 16:59:14

Agreed, GS. If telling a woman "You may not abort your girl baby" means also telling her "You must be beaten by your relatives," and "Your baby must be malnourished & mistreated by your relatives," how does that make the speaker feel better?

GetStuffezd Fri 20-Sep-13 17:12:13

Yes.
Similarly, I may not like that someone might require six or abortions over the course of their life. But I would still allow her access to these when needed. It's too easy to get into "yeah but what if" and end up contradicting yourself.
Either you believe women should have access to free, unlimited abortions, or you don't.

you can wish and hope that every woman felt able to continue with every pregnancy, that there'd be sufficient financial support or whatever, but still support choice because the alternative is forced pregnancy and unwanted children. Yes, this is how I feel. I'm just struggling with where I stand after reading the article.

Mumsnut Or are you denying a man control over his wife's body?, Joyful? I reckon that's ofen the case, and it troubles me, I admit. I'm not sure what you're saying, can you explain further please?

True garlic...

BasilBabyEater Fri 20-Sep-13 17:41:52

I agree with women's right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason.

I want society to change so that no woman ever has a reason to want to terminate in order to have a baby of a different sex.

The two things aren't contradictory for me.

edam Fri 20-Sep-13 17:48:53

I'm pro-choice. A woman has every right to decide what happens to her own body (just as man has). So while I'd deplore abortion based on the supposed gender of the foetus, I wouldn't feel in any way entitled to block abortion on those grounds - it's a matter for the woman concerned and her doctors. As long as the doctors point out ultrasound scans can be misleading...

If you want to stop gender-based abortion, you need to tackle the misogyny that makes people see baby girls as inferior. Not punish women who are the victims of a society's preference for boys, such as in China or India.

Mumsnut Fri 20-Sep-13 17:57:58

Joyful - I was wondering whether the women in fact always want the abortion, or are being coerced by male relatives into getting rid of female foetuses? I read an article to that effect many years ago, but can't remember the source. It quoted an employee at a posh London clinic who had given up her job because she felt extremely uncomfortable at the scenes she had witnessed (sobbing pregant ladies from abroad who clearly did not want the abortion they were about to have, and husbands more or less barring the exit). As i said, I can't remember the source so please treat with caution, but it made a big impression on me.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Fri 20-Sep-13 17:59:09

If you make it legal to have abortions on the grounds of sex-selection then it is definitively the woman's choice to go ahead and give birth to a girl - or to put it another way, it is definitely her fault.

captainbarnacle Fri 20-Sep-13 18:03:02

You are correct, OP.

Who is it this week who has been attacked for saying abortion on grounds of gender is the same as abortion on grounds of rape? She is totally correct too.

Abortion on grounds of any thing other than the medical issues a foetus may have is abortion on grounds of the woman's choice. There is no difference between the motives - whether there is an abortion on grounds of rape or gender, the foetus remains healthy and viable and has no guilt whatsoever.

I spent this lunchtime being attacked on a FB post for pointing this out.

Oh ok, Mumsnut, I see what you mean. That’s definitely an issue. For me the key is in the word "choice"; the decision must be the woman's, without fear or coercion.

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