Sex-selective abortion An Indian mother registers at a family planning clinic Modern medicine allows parents to learn the sex of a baby before it is born, and in some cultures this can lead to a foetus being aborted if it is female.
In the s this has been of particular concern in India, where it is partly responsible for a low and declining population ratio of women to men - there were females against 1, males in and females against 1, males in The Hindu newspaper reported in that "in Delhi, one in seven female foetuses is said to be aborted. The preference for male children is part of the general inequality of women in some cultures.
This is largely economic and due to reasons like these: The day grooms become available without a hefty price tag attached to them, female foeticide will end.
Dr Amrit Sethi, The Tribune of India, 27 June The practice of aborting female foetuses not only stems from a demeaning attitude to women, but reinforces it. Surprisingly this attitude to women is so deeply ingrained that it is commonly found in women as well as men.
It would be easy to regard female infanticide and nowadays foeticide as ancient practices that the modernisation of society should soon finish off. But some Indian social scientists disagree, and regard it: Frontline, April 27, A year-old schoolboy ran away from home when his parents refused to kill the twin girls born to them rather late in their life - he did not want to shoulder the responsibility of marrying them off later in life! The Hindu, May 12, "What is better, having an unwanted daughter or none at all?
There would have been ghee and milk for my brother-in-law's sons and not even a roti for her - plus the land would have been theirs, too. Female foeticide is being criticised by so many NGOs and others but without realising the practical problems. It may be ethically wrong but is practised by many couples.
We all know it is very costly to marry off a girl whereas the marriage of a son brings back whatever has been spent on him since his birth. This is a fact and unless this is addressed to, female foeticide cannot be stopped. The paper found that the skewing of gender ratios in firstborn children was stronger in Punjab, where the sex ratio at birth SRB was , than in Haryana with SRB Preference for a son following the birth of a daughter was almost equally strong in Haryana and Punjab with SRB being and , respectively.
Countrywide surveys have shown that sex-selective abortion is more common in wealthier families and in urban areas partly because access to the technology is easier, and the economic drive stronger.
Sex-selective infanticide and IVF Sex selective infanticide Sex selection is evident up to the age of 5 - the period when a child depends most on its parents for survival. Female infanticide may not be done by a positive act of killing a female baby, but by favouring male babies in the areas of: A woman's ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs which are fertilised with her partner's sperm. This produces several fertilised embryos, some of which are placed in her womb, and the others are frozen for possible later use.
Two ethical problems then arise: Some couples choose selective reduction instead - the destruction of some of the embryos early in the pregnancy - either because they don't want so many children, or in order to improve the survival chances of the other embryos.
Legislation such as the Texas Prenatal Protection Act makes such disposal an unlawful killing except under restricted circumstances. Note that the case of the stored embryos poses a very different ethical case to other forms of abortion in that the embryo to be terminated is in a test tube and not in the mother's body. This removes all the arguments about a woman's rights over her own body from any discussion of abortion, since her own body is no longer involved, and not aborting the foetus does not impose an unwanted pregnancy upon the mother.
Top Defective or unsuitable embryos Doctors are becoming more able to screen embryos for genetic abnormalities. In some cases the pregnancy may be terminated if a serious genetic defect is found.
Similarly doctors are able to screen artificially fertilised embryos in order to make sure that only healthy ones are implanted in the womb. Both these examples raise abortion issues, but for many people the early stage of development at which the embryo is destroyed makes these issues seem less significant, probably because they don't regard the embryo as having acquired the status of a moral person at that stage.
However, such abortions are subject to criticism as undermining our attitude to people with disability. For example, one organisation has argued: If doctors were able to screen an embryo for trivial factors such as hair colour, or intelligence, and parents were able to abort an embryo because they only wanted a child of above-average intelligence, most people would regard this as morally unacceptable, and as a misuse of technology.