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.

jennycoast Fri 20-Sep-13 12:36:42

I read it too, and though I see the logic, feel it is fuel for the anti abortion lobby more than anything.

MorrisZapp Fri 20-Sep-13 12:39:34

I support a woman's right to choose abortion for any reason she may have. Of course I find sex selection terminations pretty horrible, but it's the culture behind them that I have the issue with. Ultimately, I couldn't ban abortions on sex selection grounds.

GrownUpYOYO Fri 20-Sep-13 12:44:14

I thought I was pro - choice but I think sex-selective abortions are wrong. Scans don't always get the sex right anyway so surely this should be considered. There is a line you shouldn't cross and for me it's aborting babies because you are not happy with the sex. What happens if a woman keeps on having boys and wants a girl? Keep aborting, aborting, aborting?

kim147 Fri 20-Sep-13 12:44:20

Pro-choice also means that there should be no limits as to the time limit on abortions. But there is.

There was a report on Radio 4 this morning about gender based abortion. So many missing girls because of this.

There isn't a conflict for me. I'm pro choice about whether to have a baby or not and selecting at the embryo stage is fine.

But to abort because you don't want the sex of the baby is different - that's not the same as not wanting any baby.

The majority of babies aborted for sex selection are going to be female - and I dispute how much of a 'choice' that is by the woman in a misogynistic culture who may only want boy babies.

It looks like choice but it isn't IMO.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 20-Sep-13 12:52:58

I read the article too and for me the really stand-out thing was the idea that blaming the woman for having a sex-selective abortion is once again, blaming the wrong target. If women are so constrained by the culture they live in (financial implications of a future dowry to their family and existing children, risk of divorce, risk of physical violence from their husbands if they have a female child), then the problem is the culture as a whole, and the answer is much more complex than simply restricting what limited autonomy they have (even if in this case it's highly constrained, and there is no real choice in the matter) still further.

On the other hand it sits very uneasily with me - it reminds me somewhat of a recent thread where someone was asking for strategies for coping with what she described as "unwanted sex" because she felt she genuinely couldn't leave her marriage, and not surprisingly, most people on the thread said "what you're actually asking us to do is supply tips for how to let your rapist carry on raping with impunity, and I'm sorry, in all conscience I can't do that."

It's also making me think of the discussion of consent going on elsewhere at the moment. Yes, these women are choosing (consenting to) these procedures, but against a background of cultural pressures so immense and so deeply screwed up that it's hardly real choice (hence question marks over whether 'consent' is a useful concept at all). I feel we are in the same sort of territory of "I'll give my abusive husband a BJ even if I throw up afterwards to avoid him anally raping me later on tonight." Yes these women need all the small crumbs of bodily autonomy they can get, but we're a million miles away from the sort of situations we normally consider wither respect to choice and bodily autonomy: a woman saying "this pregnancy is at a bad time for me, and I want to finish my degree first", or "I have 3 children whom I love dearly and just don't feel a 4th would be right for me and my existing family" or "I actually don't want children, I've had a contraceptive failure and now I'm going to handle the consequences of that contraceptive failure in a sensible way."

Sorry - this is a bit of a waffly brain-dump. I'm only at the early stages of thinking about this.

WowOoo Fri 20-Sep-13 12:55:36

LaurieFairyCake has put it better than I could. I agree with her.

It could extend to someone like me. I have two boys and I only want another if it's a girl, for example. Not that that's true for me, but I've heard mums say things like this before.

Is that really what being pro-choice is about?
It's interesting, thanks for link. I can't get it to open, but will try again later.

I think that what this article has made me realise is that you can't have partial rights over your body - it's all or nothing, so whatever a woman's reason for aborting I should support her right to do it.

But late-term abortions, sex-selective abortions, abortions on the grounds of disability - these do all make me uncomfortable, even hypothetically. I think kim made a good point about time constraints as well.

ModeratelyObvious Fri 20-Sep-13 13:06:34

Yoyo, whilst possible, I don't think that preference of that kind is a major driver of sex selective abortion.

ModeratelyObvious Fri 20-Sep-13 13:13:06

Great post, Lurcio.

Joyful, you are unconfortable because it's a characteristic of the baby that is causing the pregnancy to be terminated. Many people are comfortable with termination as a result of detecting a disability (many are not, of course) and perhaps this feels too much like being female is the disability, which is an uneasy place to be.

hermioneweasley Fri 20-Sep-13 13:17:07

I am pro choice, but never thought of myself as pro sex selection.

If we allow termination on the grounds of convenience, is gender selection worse?

It feels worse because we all know that female foetuses are disproportionately targeted, but if the woman is going to suffer hardship for having a girl, would you force her to go through with it?

Aargh!

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 13:28:38

As Lurcio has pointed out, in societies where sex-selected termination actually happens, its unlikely to really be the woman's free choice. Allowing sex-selected abortions does nothing to solve the issues in these societies, it perpetuates them.

grimbletart Fri 20-Sep-13 13:33:52

Crossing Continents last week had an item on the brideless men in a part of China who had little hope of marrying because China's former one child policy meant a great number of girls were aborted. One man, talking about his school, cited three classes - can't remember the exact numbers but one class had only one girl, the other two had only a handful.

It's the culture of these countries that has to be addressed rather than the individual case. Sadly some bring their culture with them. This is the bigger picture with gender discrimination.

MrsMcEnroe Fri 20-Sep-13 13:33:54

I support any woman's choice in terminating a pregnancy, for whatever reasons. Her body, her reasons, her choice.

I also support the choice to terminate at any point during the pregnancy. I know this viewpoint is not a popular one, but it is one which I hold firmly and which is very much influenced by my own background (I was an unwanted baby, and that's all I will say on the matter).

The fact that I have chosen to continue with my own pregnancies does not give me the right to judge other women's reasons for terminating.

But, as others have said, I worry that termination on the grounds of (female) gender is something that is not actually a choice for the woman at all, but something forced on her in the name of "culture." Therefore it is actually the polar opposite of the "choice" that I so wholeheartedly support ...

Hhmmm, still working out my thoughts on this, but that's what I think/feel so far.

I will be watching this thread with interest. Have just listened to part of Jeremy Vine's interview with a wonderful lady who survived FGM and it has really got me thinking about all the terrible things that women have been forced to endure over the years, and I would class an unwanted pregnancy for whatever reason as one of those "terrible things."

Repeatedlydoingthetwist Fri 20-Sep-13 13:53:58

This is a difficult subject. I watched the interview with the woman who said it on This Morning, and I have to say that what she says makes a lot of sense. I think by it's very nature being pro choice means regardless of the reasons behind it. However as others have said, I can see the major reason for this being cultural and I do worry whether this is therefore the woman's choice. But then within that there are further questions; if the woman herself has come the to decision without any outside influence or pressure, does that make it ok? And how can you be sure that she hasn't been coerced?

Lottapianos Fri 20-Sep-13 13:56:45

'I also support the choice to terminate at any point during the pregnancy'

Same here. I also support a women's right to abortion on the grounds of sex selection. I find the concept of sex selection really sickening but I agree with other posters that blaming the woman for the beliefs of an entire culture is just wrong.

I had training at work on safeguarding and culture, specifically South Asian culture, recently and the trainer was adamant that the stigma about having girls has not softened one iota in her culture (Indian Sikh). It's so bad that when a mother of 3 adult daughters died aged just 50, the community blamed it on her never having had a son shock and they said this openly to her daughters! News of the birth of a baby girl is regularly greeted with 'oh dear' and 'never mind' sad It was horrifying but with that sort of pressure coming at you from all sides, I could understand why a woman would choose to terminate if she was having a girl.

Lottapianos Fri 20-Sep-13 13:57:07

'I also support the choice to terminate at any point during the pregnancy'

Same here. I also support a women's right to abortion on the grounds of sex selection. I find the concept of sex selection really sickening but I agree with other posters that blaming the woman for the beliefs of an entire culture is just wrong.

I had training at work on safeguarding and culture, specifically South Asian culture, recently and the trainer was adamant that the stigma about having girls has not softened one iota in her culture (Indian Sikh). It's so bad that when a mother of 3 adult daughters died aged just 50, the community blamed it on her never having had a son shock and they said this openly to her daughters! News of the birth of a baby girl is regularly greeted with 'oh dear' and 'never mind' sad It was horrifying but with that sort of pressure coming at you from all sides, I could understand why a woman would choose to terminate if she was having a girl.

GrownUpYOYO Fri 20-Sep-13 14:01:25

What I don't understand is when people are saying the major/primary reason for sex selective abortion would be cultural reasons?

Here where I live in the UK most people are happy for a healthy baby. confused

kim147 Fri 20-Sep-13 14:02:18

To abort because a baby is bad timing / would make your life more difficult / for medical reasons / damaging to your body / unwanted is one thing.

To abort because it's a girl and you really wanted a boy?

The first reasons are because they affect you and your life. It's sad that in some cultures, having a female baby is seen as damaging your life.

I heard a story about a man in India who killed his 15 month old daughter because his wife had given birth to another girl so he killed the first one.

MooncupGoddess Fri 20-Sep-13 14:03:17

Those two points aren't irreconcilable, YOYO. As the author said, sex-selective abortion would probably be pretty rare in the UK, but would mostly be driven by cultural reasons when it did happen.

LeBFG Fri 20-Sep-13 14:07:36

Thanks OP for the heads up. THis is really interesting and represents to me the reason why taking a single issue and applying to all situations in wrong for me. Yes, women should have bodily autonomy, it's a right but a right to be balanced against other rights. Example: healthy fetuses in the 3rd trimester have a right to life. And aborting based on sex I find absolutely abhorrent.

Because I don't subscribe to a woman's right over her body in all and every conceivable case, then I can at least say I'm against 3rd trim abortions (resulting in the death of the foetus) and sex-based abortions.

I don't care if this seems like blaming the woman. It is her choice to abort or not so I can blame her if that's what she decides to do.

zatyaballerina Fri 20-Sep-13 14:24:52

Female hating culture should not be indulged. The only way you change the culture is by challenging it, no sex selected abortions, severe penalties for doctors who provide and families who pressure women into having them. There should be no room in a civilised society for such barbaric attitudes toward any group of people.

You can't compare a woman willingly aborting an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy to one who purposely gets pregnant with the intention of aborting if it is female or worse, women who are psychologically coerced into having abortions by family members.

There are three problems here; one is using abortion as a form of contraception when the result is not to a cultures liking, the second is the compulsion to abort which is what women in these communities feel and thirdly, there are social consequences for skewed sex ratios. The greater the access to sex selective abortion, the lower the percentage of females to males.
articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-03/ahmedabad/40350336_1_boys-and-girls-maninagar-wards

www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/12/indias-skewed-sex-ratios

daughtersofindia.wordpress.com/tag/skewed-sex-ratio/

Many of these women are not free like most people on this board, for someone trapped within a misogynistic community and controlling family, there is no choice when the pressure is on.

GrownUpYOYO Fri 20-Sep-13 14:28:37

Zatyaballerina - that all makes a lot of sense

If we allow termination on the grounds of convenience, is gender selection worse? I think Hermione makes an interesting point here. I think it's as Moderately said, the difference is when it's a characteristic of the foetus that causes the woman to choose to abort.

I realise that in some cultures it's often safer for the woman to abort than it is to bear a live girl. I honestly don't know how to confront that in other countries.

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.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 20-Sep-13 18:20:29

I'm pro-choice for any reason. If a woman thinks having a female (or male, or disabled, or blonde, or double recessive blah blah gened) child is not in her own best interests then she should have the right to terminate.

Not that I would choose or think that other women should choose abortion in those circumstances (so I'm not pro-). But I think they should have the right to do as they please with their bodies and don't believe they should be forced to use their bodies to support a foetus against their will - even if their decisions are sexist, racist or disablist. Just as I don't think a woman should be obliged to sleep with someone they don't want to, even if their reason for not wanting to is influenced by sexist, racist or disablist views.

At the same time, I find a culture that favours the birth of boys over girls to be abhorrent. But it's the culture that needs changing, not the right of women to determin their own lives.

YoniMatopoeia Fri 20-Sep-13 18:50:26

So... The fwr board changes my mind about something else....

My instinctive reaction to sex selecton abortion was 'no'.

Just as my gut reaction to late term used to be negative.

Thank you for discussing all this stuff from a (mostly) lurker.

BasilBabyEater Fri 20-Sep-13 19:02:29

"it's the culture that needs changing, not the right of women to determine their own lives."

Quite. Get rid of a culture that says males are more valuable than females and you get rid of the need for sex selective abortions.

In fact, you get rid of the need for most abortions full stop. Women don't generally "choose" to have abortions like they choose what colour knickers to buy; they choose to have abortions because there is no other acceptable choice if they want to continue to function in a society which has been designed to disadvantage them.

JoTheHot Fri 20-Sep-13 19:55:49

This thread is an excellent example of why framing ethical arguments in terms of rights is unhelpful.

1. Humans have a right to life.
2. Humans have a right to bodily autonomy.

2. contradicts 1.

So 1. becomes - Humans have a right to life, apart from when they don't.

Ethical decisions should be about minimising harm and maximising well-being. Compromising someone's bodily autonomy is always undesirable, but preferable when it avoids a greater harm.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Fri 20-Sep-13 20:05:09

Quite agree Jo - People have "interests" but they don't have rights. If Utilitarianism was good enough for John and Harriet Mill then it's good enough for me.

Jo can you explain a bit more about this please? Compromising someone's bodily autonomy is always undesirable, but preferable when it avoids a greater harm. What greater harm do you mean, in the context of this thread? Thanks.

I think my blocked sinuses are blocking my brain too. Can't sem to understand things properly today. sad

edam Fri 20-Sep-13 21:39:15

There are plenty of reasoned, important criticisms of utilitarianism. Especially in relation to minorities - greatest good of the greatest number is all very well if you are in a majority, not so handy if you are the only gay in the village.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 20-Sep-13 22:15:06

Rights frequently become hierarchical in ethical arguments. For example, we talk about humans having a right to life and a right to bodily autonomy in terms of organ transplants, but no one finds it difficult to say the right to life does not mean you can insist someone gives up a kidney for you. The right to bodily autonomy is quite important then. It allows your fear of needles or simply your desire to not suffer any loss in order to benefit someone else to keep you from being forced into taking the lesser risk to your detriment and someone else's benefit. And that's accepting the false equivalence between a foetus and a human being.

BasilBabyEater Fri 20-Sep-13 22:36:07

Yeah, very few of the pro-forced-birthers will argue that people should be forced to give blood against their will in order to have a permanent well-stocked blood-bank in the public interest, let alone be forced to give up one of their kidneys.

WeAreSeven Fri 20-Sep-13 22:57:38

I used to sometimes frequent a forum which existed for people who wanted a baby of a specific gender, some wanted boys, some wanted girls.
One woman started a thread blaming the Australian government for "making her" have a termination. Because gender selection is not allowed in Australia. She had two boys already and had just terminated her pregnancy with twin sons.
I have to say, it rattled me.
First of all because I was sharing a forum with her. I wanted a girl too. Was I so self-absorbed as that? I knew I wouldn't have aborted any of my sons regardless of gender. But here I was, like this woman, trying to figure out how to sway my odds towards a girl.
Secondly, I was pro-choice but yet this upset me. So was I not really pro-choice? Because if you are pro-choice, shouldn't you be pro-choice for all pregnant women? Not just the pregnant women who terminate for reasons you deem acceptable?
And then because she was blaming the government for her choice. But she knew before she embarked on the pregnancy that she would terminate a boy. If she were rich, she could have gone to the USA and had a procedure to guarantee a girl. Because she wasn't rich, she took her chances, she gambled and lost.

Errol do you really think the above scenario is really even slightly less repugnant than a woman in a country where news of a baby girl is greeted with sympathy, seeking to terminate a baby girl?
To me it seemed worse. There would be far less cultural pressure on the Australian woman to produce a daughter than there would on the Indian woman to produce a son.

I stopped using that forum after that.

I did have a baby girl and then she died. And a lot of people were very sympathetic that "the girl" had died. More so, I think than if it had been one of my sons . And yet it really wouldn't have been an improvement if it had been any of my sons.

MooncupGoddess Fri 20-Sep-13 23:04:29

Really sorry to hear about your loss, WeAreSeven.

It's entirely possible to think a particular action should be legal but disapprove of it morally... that's where I would stand on the case you mention.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 21-Sep-13 00:11:14

Seven, so sorry for what you've been through

>Errol do you really think the above scenario is really even slightly less repugnant than a woman in a country where news of a baby girl is greeted with sympathy, seeking to terminate a baby girl?
To me it seemed worse. There would be far less cultural pressure on the Australian woman to produce a daughter than there would on the Indian woman to produce a son.

Yes, me too - I'm not quite sure why you thought I'd think otherwise confused. Maybe I was unclear in some earlier post about something...its a complicated issue. I don't find the actions of the Indian woman repugnant - they're understandable, but the position she's put in certainly is.

I think I got close to my conclusion with my reframing of the OPs title
'if you're pro-choice you are in favour of a woman having a right to sex-selective abortion' - you may think that their reasons are understandable in their situation, or you may think them ethically wrong but its their decision.

WeAreSeven Sat 21-Sep-13 00:44:00

You know what, Errol, I have had wine tonight so it is perfectly possible that it has adversely affected my reading of the screen! I thought someone asked if you would find it more repugnant if it were a male foetus that were terminated and you said it was slightly less repugnant but I probably didn't read it correctly! blush

I think I get confused with termination because I really don't think I would ever have one, no matter what. But I wouldn't dream of imposing my "morals" on another woman or voting to impose my morals on another woman. I got really angry one day in work because someone who knew about my dd, who was born at 28 weeks and died 7 weeks later, said
"So you must be really against abortion" and I'm NOT! I said so but couldn't be too vehement because it was a client I was talking to and you are supposed to be polite to clients.

I get confused because a foetus is a foetus, surely. So if it's OK to terminate this foetus, then it should be OK to terminate that foetus. But it is upsetting if the reasons for the termination seem facile and shallow.

And, then, this is the thing. The woman in India might want her baby, no matter if it's a boy or a girl. But if she wants the baby and her husband, family or circle of acquaintances pressurise her into having a boy, then it's not her choice, is it? It is the choice of the people around her, therefore her choice is taken away and she is seen as a breeding vessel for male heirs. And yet she is the one who will have to live with that, probably thinking for the rest of her life about that baby girl and how she might have turned out.

The woman in Australia wanted a girl and it was her choice to terminate the boy because of prettiness, dresses, barbies and pink. Because at the end of the day, that's what it boils down to.

And although it upsets me that she would have a termination for such reasons, that I still feel morally obliged to support her choice because it must always be her choice. Always.

sashh Sat 21-Sep-13 07:24:56

Whilst it is something no right minded person wants is sex selection abortion bettor or worse than killing a girl baby shortly after birth? Or in a recent case in Pakistan an older child because her new sister was a girl not a boy?

Sex selection abortion is a bit of a red herring because it is the attitudes that need to change.

I heard the same programme about China and men being desperate for wives, but their reasons were nothing to do with wanting to love a woman, they were to do with status, an unmarried man does not get the same respect as a married one.

Also before this policy millions of Chinese starved to death. Because of attitudes to women and girls they were the ones deprived of food first. Again is it better to never be born or to be starved to death as a child?

As a woman in 21st century Europe it is difficult to think that you would abort the 'wrong' sex, but if you know that the child you are carrying will not live beyond 6 months would you consider abortion then?

It will be interesting to see how this next generation in China feel about boys and girls? Single children who are now adults are allowed to have two children, will they want 2 boys?

Yesterday in Pakistan there was a country wide event where Imans in their Friday sermon were preaching "A girl is a gift from Allah".

There is a state in India (sorry can't remember which one) where education is free up to the age of 18, they have seen family size drop to 2-3 children a family and there is less, if any bias for boys because girls can and do get an education and then earn their own money so girls are no longer a financial burden.

EmmelineGoulden Sat 21-Sep-13 09:57:19

I find the abortion by the Australian woman less upsetting than the abortion by the Indian woman. The idea of a woman being coerced into an abortion she does not want seems much worse to me than a woman doing something to her own body for her own purposes.

LurcioLovesFrankie Sat 21-Sep-13 11:41:14

Kerala, I think. I have colleagues from there, and I'd say the issues are, as ever, complex and multi-faceted. Politically it's left leaning, and culturally some aspects of their society are women-friendly - IIRC there are some matrilineal inheritance laws, for instance.

anaotchan Sat 21-Sep-13 12:14:05

I think the phrasing of the topic is really misleading - thinking that sex-selective abortion should be legal does not mean I am "in favour of it"!!

There is a huge difference between giving someone the legal right to do something, and thinking that said something is the right thing to do.

For instance I don't think it's a good idea for women to drink/smoke while pregnant, but I would be horrified if the government tried to legislate to legally force them to stop both.

In fact, I feel the same way about abortion: in my opinion, it's rarely the best option for women. But I would still argue to the death for our legal right to decide for ourselves!

Viviennemary Sat 21-Sep-13 12:18:25

I'm not in favour of pro-choice when that means abortion at any time and abortion for any reason. I am disgusted at abortion because the baby is female.

garlicbaguette Sat 21-Sep-13 13:03:12

I would rather a foetus be aborted than the child suffer starvation, neglect, murder, after birth. It would probably be better for the mother, too.

Obviously I don't condone the attitudes that make these outcomes likely, but they have nothing to do with the availability of abortion. Removing the option will not make the child more wanted, or the woman less punished.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 22-Sep-13 00:23:43

WeAre - I've not gone back to read my posts but that's certainly not what I meant! The sex of the foetus is totally irrelevant to the question, I would assume no-one would think otherwise.

Bumpstarter Sun 22-Sep-13 15:23:27

And the answer to such misogyny is never to deny women power over their own bodies actually I think allowing women this particular power over their bodies will not answer misogyny. Far more work is required that allowing gender based abortions. I doubt that misogyny is becoming less prevalent in places where gender selection has gone on and women are in the minority.

OrangeFizz99 Mon 30-Sep-13 13:21:28

Wow, this is interesting. I came on here to post about the 'Im Pro Choice but..' attitude I keep coming across on mn and a bit in rl too.

This is really very thought provoking in that it challenges my views on the very thing I as about to post on.

I think cases where the women is in a society where bearing a girl is down right dangerous is probably outside the debate. That women is acting in preservation not through choice. Surely noone blames the women in those cases? They are victims.

I think I probably have to say, as others have, that I am pro choice and therefore believe that in every situation a women should have a right to decide what is in her womb and when. I wouldnt abort late on or for gender reasons but what really makes those reasons different to my reasons for my very early on abortion? The minute you start laying down a line anywhere (as per the 'ok if its rape, a 16 year old' etc I was going to post about) is the minute you start narrowing choices and punishing a woman for having a womb and being sexually active.

Late term and gender selective abortions do make me feel uneasy though which I dont understand given the logic laid out above.

Grennie Mon 30-Sep-13 20:07:21

Yes at first look this seems a difficult issue for those who are feminists and pro choice. But I think in reality there are probably women having abortions for other raesons that I would see as trivial. It doesn't matter. It is her body, and it should be up to her.

Although if women were not taught that they have to have penetrative sex with a man, then there would be less need for abortions in the first place.

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