Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roe v. Wade and the global war on girls

In the 39 years since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, abortion has resulted in a holocaust of unborn babies, not just in the United States, but around the world. One of the great ironies of the abortion debate is that what its proponents tout as “a woman’s right to choose” has resulted in a genocide against baby girls in many countries.

The root of the problem is that abortion is being coupled with sex determination techniques in many parts of the world. In many countries, it is considered more desirable to have a boy than a girl. In some cases, they are patriarchal societies with a bias against women. In other cases, the reasons are more practical. Boys can help work the fields and will be better able to care for parents in their old age than a girl who will likely marry and move away from home. Boys are also needed to maintain the family lineage.

Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt wrote in his report, “The Global War Against Baby Girls,” that normal sex ratios favor boys slightly. Typically boys outnumber girls by about 105 to 100. An early German statistician and priest, Johann Peter Sussmilch, speculated that “the Creator’s reasons for ensuring four to five percent more boys than girls are born lie in the fact that it compensates for the higher male losses due to the recklessness of boys, to exhaustion, to dangerous occupations, to war, to seafaring and immigration, thus maintaining the balance between the two sexes so that everyone can find a spouse at the appropriate time for marriage.”

However, in the last Chinese mini-census of one percent of the population, taken in 2005, the sex ratio at birth was 119 to 100. The sex ratio for children up to four years old was even higher, almost 123 to 100. The ratios for rural areas are markedly higher than for towns and cities, which are still elevated above normal levels. The sex ratios tend to decrease as the location becomes more urban.

Although China is well known for its pro-abortion culture and rigid laws preventing large families, the problem extends around the world. Eberstadt notes that abnormal and impossible-under-nature sex ratios are found in many countries around the world. The nations represent all major religious and cultural traditions and almost every continent. Although the United States has a statistically normal sex ratio of 105 according to the Census Bureau, even certain demographic groups within the United States exhibit higher than natural sex ratios. In almost all cases, sex ratios have increased markedly since the 1990s when abortion and sex determination became widely available.

An exact sex ratio at birth statistic for Georgia could not be located, but census data shows that males under five years old outnumber females. There were 346,660 males and 335,654 females under five in Georgia in 2010. This can be extrapolated to determine a sex ratio under five of 103 for Georgia. This is well within the normal range.

Further, Eberstadt cites the World Health Organization’s 2009 Life Tables which reveal that over 60 countries have mortality rates that are higher for age 1-4 girls than for boys. The higher mortality rates are often the result of discrimination and maltreatment of girls and may indicate more areas where the skewed sex ratio is likely to result.

In human terms, the unnatural sex ratio means that millions of baby girls who should have been born never were. Eberstadt estimates that the “girl deficit,” the shortage of females under age 20, can be conservatively estimated at roughly 33 million never-born girls. He also estimates that over 95 percent of these girls were Chinese and Indian.

Tragically, the United States is helping to fuel the diverging birth rates of boys and girls. In 2009, in one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama eliminated the Mexico City Rule prohibiting the U.S. from funding groups that provide abortion services in other countries. The policy was created by President Reagan and reinstituted by George W. Bush after being revoked by Bill Clinton. Under President Obama, American taxpayers are funding abortion, both at home and abroad.

The consequences of the worldwide shortage of girls cannot be stated with certainty. Some believe that since unmarried men are generally less healthy than their married counterparts, larger numbers of unmarried men may not bode well for the health of their societies. Similarly, in countries without adequate pension systems, the rising number of men with no children to support them as they age may lead to increasing instances of poverty. Some economists even believe that as women become more scarce their value will increase, leading to more instances of prostitution, kidnapping, and slavery. A large number of frustrated and single males may also lead to more crime, violence and social instability.

Eberstadt notes that one country, South Korea, has shown elevated sex ratios in the past, but stepped back from the brink. He says that no government policy reversed this trend. Instead, it was “the spontaneous and largely uncoordinated congealing of a mass movement for honoring, protecting, and prizing daughters. In effect, this movement — drawing largely but by no means exclusively on the faith-based community — sparked a national conversation of conscience about the practice of female feticide.”

South Korea’s example illustrates the need for ethics and morality to guide the use of science. When left unchecked, the amoral use of technologies like sex determination and abortion can change the demographics of entire nations and possibly lead to social unrest. Laws are not enough. Eberstadt notes that the Chinese sex ratios are increasingly skewed in spite of the fact that the Chinese government outlawed prenatal sex determination in 1989 and sex selective abortion in 2004.

In the U.S., over 35 million babies have been killed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. This includes more than 815,000 abortions in Georgia. As in South Korea and China, simply changing the law will not provide a solution. What is needed is a change in our thinking and morality that will help parents to realize that a baby in the womb is a living human and then encourage them to love, honor, and protect the life that they have created.

This article was first published on

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