Thursday, March 8, 2007

Female Feticide and the Left [Serge]

The folks over at the Rh Reality Check blog have a very interesting take on the practice of sex-selection abortions in India and China. The title should give you an idea about what's to come...

Right-wingers at the Commission on the Status of Women

...but other right-wing groups are taking a much more subtle tack and cleverly utilizing the human rights language surrounding violence and discrimination against girls to attack the reproductive rights of women.

This is particularly true in discussions and presentations about sex-selective abortion or as the international right prefers to call it—female feticide. Sex-selective abortion has become a hot topic among the international right. Media attention to practices in India and China where preference for male children has resulted in the use of ultrasounds to determine fetal sex has been a boon for the right-wing. Instead of focusing on the root societal causes of gender inequality that have given rise to disproportionate value placed on males, right-wing groups instead use this situation to try and assert arguments of fetal personhood and fetal rights.

The argument from female feticide is actually not subtle at all. Pro-abortion choicers argue that the fetus is a bunch of cells with no moral status, which is why it is non-problematic to violently kill it at the request of the mother. The mother retains this right regardless of her reasons - in fact, it is wrong to even question any reason she may have request an abortion.

The fact that some countries use this "women's right" in order to kill a dispropriate number of girls is an intractable moral dilemma. If abortion is an unquestionable right, then they have no basis for criticizing women who use this 'right" in order to kill their offspring on the basis of gender.

On the other hand, if they acknowledge that it is wrong for a culture to devalue women such that they justify their intentional death, they have to concede that the fetus is something other than a valueless bunch of cells. Furthermore, they would have to acknowledge that it is reasonable to place some limits on the "right" to abortion. Pro-abortion choicers fight tooth and nail against either of these arguments.

Note that the author's solution, to find "root societal causes of gender inequality" is not a solution at all. In fact, in order to solve female feticide problem, a country would simply need to agree to kill more male children. That way the killing would be correctly proportioned, and the gender inequality would be taken care of. China could fix the problem by giving financial incentives to woman who choose to abort their male children. Such a policy would solve the inequality problem, but I have doubts whether it would be effective in progressing their point of view.

Now that I've showed the argument without being subtle or clever, I was looking forward to her response. Alas, such a response was not to be had. In fact, the rest of her post had a very interesting complaint:

Many of the organizations involved in the "Working Group" are right-wing European groups like the Institute for Family Policy and the European Federation of Women Active in the Home whose chief concern is raising alarm about the "demographic crisis" in European countries. In 2006, for example, the Institute for Family Policy released a report (PDF) citing abortion as a main cause of death in Europe, second only to cancer.

The presence of groups such as this at the U.N. is alarming to say the least. But more alarming perhaps is the growing influence they wield and their ability to have their ultra-conservative voices heard when it comes to making policies on sexual and reproductive health rights internationally.

Did you catch that. She first states that groups she disagrees with are being subtle and sneaky, then she complains that a view contrary to hers is actually getting heard. This is tolerance? I suppose her solution is to censor every argument she disagrees with, so no one will need to examine their view and encounter any argument that could change their ideology.

This seems to be a new trend. Don't respond to argument that challenge your philosophy, but argue against your opponents right to make that argument. This flies in the face of every true liberal and tolerant ideal, but logical consistency seems not important. The brute expression of one's power to silence another is what they seek.

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