Let me paint the picture first.
The telegraph did an uncover scoop and correctly identified doctors in the UK who were performing illegal sex selective abortions. Quotes like “I don’t ask questions” float across the screen. As you can guess, many of the sex selective abortions were against girls. The country is in an uproar, people talk about how it’s against UK values to have sex selective abortions. Right to Life groups lament about how this is why we shouldn’t allow women to have access to abortion because of situations like this. Further, parents who adopted little girls from overseas write long letters about how they are so grateful for their little girls and anyone who dream about not having a child because of their gender is beyond evil.
This is a complicated situation and must be unpacked. Overall, I disagree with most of the commentary that is released. Here are a few arguments and my comments below them.
1) Some Brits are making this into a ‘foreign’ issue. The argument is, foreigners are coming in with different values than ours and we don’t agree. The UK values little girls, and sex selective abortions are illegal. Foreigners are barbarians, stop infecting the UK with sexist foreign values.
Despite being one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world, I still get surprised when I get comments like these. I think the nationalistic tones over-rides the main issue which is about women’s rights, and the UK isn’t necessarily the best champion of women’s rights either! Some of these women who seek sex selective abortion do so at the fear of violence from their husbands. The UK still has terrible legislature against women who are dealing who are dealing with domestic violence.
Sexism is not a foreign concept. UK’s own brand of sexism have push these women to make unfortunate choices.
You can’t separate the sex selective abortions from the rest of women’s rights. How do we prioritise the safety of the unborn girl over the safety of the mother? But because this can be a slippery slope, let me make this clear. I am advocating that a safer world for women (free of coercion and domestic violence from their partners) which I hope will result in a safer world for women to want to and freely choose to have girls.
2) The Right to Life groups are making the argument that we should restrict abortion access because this is an infringement of UK values.
See my response above. The answer is NOT about restricting women’s choices. It’s about valuing women on all levels; valuing their autonomy over their body, and valuing them as girls. There is nothing more terrifying than knowing you’re carrying a child your husband doesn’t want and fear for your own life because of it.
3) Doctors were doing something illegal. Tougher laws need to be mandated to prevent sex selective abortions.
I’m not really sure this would make things any better. Sex selective abortions will occur no matter how you change legislature. I think this puts doctors in a really tough position.
Overall, the only way to truly rid sex selective abortions from our reality, is to create a culture where babies of any gender is fully valued and loved for who they are.