As they have done every year since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, feminist groups have used the 40th anniversary of that ruling to faithfully reiterate decades-old slogans extolling the Roe ethic of abortion-on-demand, for any reason, as a boon for gender equality.
But for the millions of women and girls unable to speak because their lives were extinguished before birth simply for being female, the mantra of equality through unrestricted abortion falls flat.
Fueling a worldwide phenomenon often referred to as “gendercide,” sex-selective abortion has caused a dearth of girls in a number of countries—over 160 million women are “missing” in Asia alone.
In China, the government-imposed one-child limit, coupled with a cultural preference for boys, is ravaging the country’s female population. Bucking nature’s dictated sex ratio of 100 girls for every 105 boys, China’s average birth ratio is now 100 girls for every 118 boys—with some provinces reporting skewed gender balances as high as 130 boys for every 100 girls.
Such deadly discrimination extends well beyond China’s borders. India shows a skewed sex ratio of 112 boys for every 100 girls. Hong Kong and El Salvador aren’t far behind, with both countries tipping blue at 110 baby boys for every 100 females.
The consequences? Child kidnapping, commoditization of brides, and expanded demand for human trafficking are the costs of persistent gender imbalance, making for an arguably more violent and less free world for women.
Sex-selective abortion has even touched the shores of the United States. According to one study from Columbia University researchers, among children born to Korean, Chinese, and Indian immigrant parents, the birth of a first-born baby girl tended to forecast the sex of her future siblings. For a second birth, the male-female ratio was 117 to 110. If the couple already had two girls, the ratio for the third birth tended to skew even higher at 151 to 100.
To all this, feminist groups have remained deafeningly silent at best and dismissive at worst of the travesty of sex-selective abortion that is decimating their own around the world.
The National Organization for Women and NARAL Pro-Choice America refuse to join calls to ban such deadly bias. When Congress was considering legislation last year that would have outlawed sex-selective abortion in the U.S., Nancy Keenan, then-President of NARAL Pro-choice America, referred to the proposed ban as “attacking a woman’s right to choose.”
But, as Mara Hvistendahl explains in her book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, there’s a harsh irony lurking in an unwavering allegiance to unrestricted abortion. “In a world in which women are unnaturally scarce,” she explains, “the right to abortion will be the least of our worries.”
As Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall eloquently explains, feminists cannot simultaneously hold up the values of unfettered “choice” while also claiming to fight for gender equity:
If there is equality between women and men, it’s rooted in our nature and purpose as human beings. Denying that fundamental dignity inherent in all human life destroys the very basis of equality.
A vast majority of Americans—almost 80 percent according to a recent poll by the Charlotte Lozier Institute—would support a sex-selective abortion ban when gender was the sole reason for seeking an abortion. For the sake of their most vulnerable sisters, feminists would likewise do well to rethink where an unrestricted “right to choose” really leads. Sincerity to upholding the rights of all women suggests it and over 160 million “missing” girls demand it.