(UPDATED — again, w/ OT bonus) Will the Anti-Choice Movement …

Indian baby being immunized

Funny how I keep unexpectedly running into articles relating to this subject. This one, from Salon.com, like the Becker-Posner posts linked in Update #1, does not address the behavior of Asian Americans or the reaction of the US anti-choice movement. It does, however, give more specifics on the prevalence of sex-selective abortions in India and the cultural factors behind the practice.

(Off-topic but worth checking out: the Whiz Biz TV commercial from Australia linked to in the first sentence of the Salon.com article linked above. Sometimes I get a Flash ad when I click that link so here’s a Whiz Biz link that should work right for you.)

UPDATE #1 published April 7, 2008, at 9:49 pm EDT:
Coincidentally I found the following blog content relating to the topic of sex selection in the anthology book of blog excerpts I mentioned in a QC post earlier today. Both of the following are from a blog co-authored by Gary Becker and Richard Posner.

Although Becker and Posner don’t address the behavior of Asian Americans or the reaction of the anti-choice movement, they do add interesting background and perspectives.

Following is original post titled “Will the Anti-Choice Movement Target Asian Americans?”, published April 2, 2008, at 4:57 pm EDT:

Yesterday I heard an interesting report on NPR’s “All Things Considered” about a just released scientific study of the sex of children born to Chinese, Korean, and Asian-Indian parents here in the US.

The study, by Columbia University faculty members Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund, used 2000 US census data and appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Only a brief abstract is accessible at no cost to non-subscribers like myself — and I’m not springing ten bucks to access the PDF. Almond is interviewed in the NPR report.

Almond and Edlund found that in Asian American families with two daughters and no sons, the third child was 50 percent more likely to be a boy than a girl. For whites, the breakdown of births by sex was within range of the biological norm — about 1.05 boys for each girl. That’s 50 percent compared to 5 percent — big difference!

What is the explanation? From the PNAS abstract:

[Almond and Edlund] interpret the found deviation in favor of sons to be evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.

Now the preference for sons has long been deeply rooted in some Asian societies. Almond confirms this preference is evidenced by the birth rates in those societies. Evidently sex selection by parents in those societies is increasingly being imitated by the families of immigrants from those societies to the US.

Neither the study abstract nor the interview attempts to explain the techniques by which sex selection is practiced in those societies. However, Almond suggests in the interview that in the US, Asian Americans are taking advantage of advances in medical technology to practice sex selection.

  • Some advancements in medical technology enable parents to increase the chance they will conceive a baby of the desired sex.
  • Others advancements, notably in ultrasound technology, enable parents to more reliably detect the sex of the fetus.

In the latter case, if the fetus’ sex is not what the parents were hoping for, the only available reliable option for preventing its birth is abortion.

So can we be sure Asian Americans practice sex-selective abortion in relatively greater numbers than whites? No. The matter requires study. However, any such study would be hampered by the reluctance of parents to discuss their abortion or even to admit to having had one.

But I’ll go out on a limb and say, without intending any disrespect, that Asian Americans abort female fetuses in relatively greater numbers than whites.

And here on that limb I’m wondering whether the study will gain any traction in the anti-choice ( “pro life” ) movement and if so, how will that movement react?

Will that movement — whose views I oppose — target Asian Americans and their doctors? (Does it already target them?)

I wouldn’t like to see that happen.

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3 comments so far

  1. Kani on

    re:Whiz Biz. I heard of these, but never saw one in action. Well, you got my attention. Very strange.

    As for the long term effects of sex-selection practices, it presumably ought to lead to an increase in the perceived value of females, as they will be in very short supply. One can always hope.

  2. QC on

    The comments on the Broadsheet post say devices like Whiz Biz have been around for a long time, they’re great for camping and filthy public restrooms, and a disposable version (called P-mate) is even available.

    Great point on the possible long-term effect of male-biased sex selection …

  3. Renee Brams on

    Glad your blog is back!

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