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Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Unnatural Selection"

My Uncle Dan sent me a link to a news collecting website, that included a piece on Jonathan Last's review of Mara Hvistendahl's book Unnatural Selection in the Wall Street Journal.  I had definitely heard of this book before, probably on NPR.

I don't agree with Jonathan Last's conclusion at all , i.e., "there are only two alternatives: restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it." The underlying problem is not the availability of abortion or even the ability to identify the sex of a baby - both have been occurring for centuries, long before modern medical methods made them easier and more efficient. And both will continue even if modern medical methods are made unavailable through legal prohibitions (or should I say "attempts to make them unavailable"). The underlying problem is the consistent and persistent devaluing of female children. When that stops, selective abortion will also stop.

It's also worth noting that the calculations should account for the loss of girls when abortion is not available - people have always (and continue to) rid themselves of unwanted girls by drowning them or just leaving them on church doorsteps, etc.  Also, when women are forced to carry every child to term, they are much more likely to die in childbirth.  It's not an equivalent number of course, but the loss is not insignificant and should be acknowledged.



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