The recently released UN report on violence against women cites sex-selection and infanticide as growing problems. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert agrees.In his column today, Herbert writes appropriately that the news media is reacting to worldwide violence against women with little more than a “collective yawn.”He calls urgent attention to the report that itself frames gender preference as a form of violence.
Families in many Asian countries use both infanticide and abortion, oftentimes illegally, to satisfy their “boy preference.” In India for example, reports show that more than 10 million girls have gone "missing" in the past 20 years. Is anyone yawning now?
What’s more, legal restrictions on sex selection are causing some Asian families to travel to countries like the US where advanced technology (PGD) allows them to choose the sex (pre-pregnancy) of their child. This phenomenon has been called “reproductive tourism.” In fact, bioethicist Art Caplan dubs the US the “Wild West of reproductive technology.”
Here in the US, assisted reproductive technology operates in a notoriously under-regulated environment, and a profit incentive persists. It may be difficult to admit it, but it has become a “baby business.” Sex-selection is also occurring among American families, oftentimes with the justification of “family balancing.” A recent survey showed that more than half of the country’s fertility clinics allow couples to choose the sex of their child.
But maybe it’s not just girls that are missing. A recent blog posting in Nature alludes to a shortage of baby boys. The explanation is that male embryos don't survive the stress of IVF, so a woman going through this procedure is more likely to have success conceiving a girl. If we're not collecting data on the use of this technology, then how do we know that it’s not just plain old girl preference that's causing the purported boy shortage?
Posted in Global Governance, Sex Selection
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