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AmeriKKKa continues her inevitable (Yep.) slide into Third World madness.

Behold the fleas with which that mangy orange cur has infested conservatism! SUCKERS! Neo-Nazis battling commies in the streets? Welcome...

"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When the Old Gray Whore prints something expressing a bit of queasiness over babykilling, it must really be horrific out there.

160 Million and Counting
By

In 1990, the economist Amartya Sen published an essay in The New York Review of Books with a bombshell title: “More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing.” His subject was the wildly off-kilter sex ratios in India, China and elsewhere in the developing world. To explain the numbers, Sen invoked the “neglect” of third-world women, citing disparities in health care, nutrition and education. He also noted that under China’s one-child policy, “some evidence exists of female infanticide.”

Twenty years later, the number of “missing” women has risen to more than 160 million, and a journalist named Mara Hvistendahl has given us a much more complete picture of what’s happened. Her book is called “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.” As the title suggests, Hvistendahl argues that most of the missing females weren’t victims of neglect. They were selected out of existence, by ultrasound technology and second-trimester abortion.

The spread of sex-selective abortion is often framed as a simple case of modern science being abused by patriarchal, misogynistic cultures. Patriarchy is certainly part of the story, but as Hvistendahl points out, the reality is more complicated — and more depressing.

Thus far, female empowerment often seems to have led to more sex selection, not less. In many communities, she writes, “women use their increased autonomy to select for sons,” because male offspring bring higher social status. In countries like India, sex selection began in “the urban, well-educated stratum of society,” before spreading down the income ladder.

Moreover, Western governments and philanthropic institutions have their fingerprints all over the story of the world’s missing women.

From the 1950s onward, Asian countries that legalized and then promoted abortion did so with vocal, deep-pocketed American support. Digging into the archives of groups like the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Hvistendahl depicts an unlikely alliance between Republican cold warriors worried that population growth would fuel the spread of Communism and left-wing scientists and activists who believed that abortion was necessary for both “the needs of women” and “the future prosperity — or maybe survival — of mankind,” as the Planned Parenthood federation’s medical director put it in 1976.

For many of these antipopulation campaigners, sex selection was a feature rather than a bug, since a society with fewer girls was guaranteed to reproduce itself at lower rates.

Hvistendahl’s book is filled with unsettling scenes, from abandoned female fetuses littering an Indian hospital to the signs in Chinese villages at the height of the one-child policy’s enforcement. (“You can beat it out! You can make it fall out! You can abort it! But you cannot give birth to it!”) The most disturbing passages, though, are the ones that depict self-consciously progressive Westerners persuading themselves that fewer girls might be exactly what the teeming societies of the third world needed.

Over all, “Unnatural Selection” reads like a great historical detective story, and it’s written with the sense of moral urgency that usually accompanies the revelation of some enormous crime.

But what kind of crime? This is the question that haunts Hvistendahl’s book, and the broader debate over the vanished 160 million.

The scale of that number evokes the genocidal horrors of the 20th century. But notwithstanding the depredations of the Chinese politburo, most of the abortions were (and continue to be) uncoerced. The American establishment helped create the problem, but now it’s metastasizing on its own: the population-control movement is a shadow of its former self, yet sex selection has spread inexorably with access to abortion, and sex ratios are out of balance from Central Asia to the Balkans to Asian-American communities in the United States.

This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered.

It’s society at large, she argues, citing evidence that gender-imbalanced countries tend to be violent and unstable. It’s the women in those countries, she adds, pointing out that skewed sex ratios are associated with increased prostitution and sex trafficking.

These are important points. But the sense of outrage that pervades her story seems to have been inspired by the missing girls themselves, not the consequences of their absence.

Here the anti-abortion side has it easier. We can say outright what’s implied on every page of “Unnatural Selection,” even if the author can’t quite bring herself around.

The tragedy of the world’s 160 million missing girls isn’t that they’re “missing.” The tragedy is that they’re dead.


From Andrew Sullivan:

A Dilemma For Pro-Choicers

Yglesias takes issue with Douthat's column on sex-selective abortion (ie the abortion of girls because they are girls). In response, Ross repeats his main argument:

My point was that the story of sex-selective abortion creates more difficulties — both intellectually and, I would submit, emotionally — for abortion-rights supporters than it does for those of us on the pro-life side of the argument. For one thing, it presents a policy problem: If the right to abortion is a fundamental human liberty, how do you address sex selection without infringing dramatically on the right to privacy?

Erica Grieder tackles one of Douthat's weaker points. I think his main one is inarguable.


See people missing the forest for the trees at The Atlantic Wire:

Is the West to Blame for Sex-Selective Abortion in Asia?

Mara Hvistendahl's new essay in Foreign Policy about sex-selective abortions in Asia is keeping the debate alive about the West's role in promoting policies that have resulted in sharp gender gap in Asia. In her new book Unnatural Selection, Hvistendahl suggests that the West has promoted sex selection, in part through the spread of ultrasound technology and liberalized abortion policies. Her thesis has drawn in a host of pundits, including Think Progress blogger Matt Yglesias, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins struck early, accusing Hvistendahl of blaming science on the gender gap, instead of blaming the "cultural and religious practices that despise and discriminate against women in the first place." He posed the question to Hvistendahl "Why do we blame science for offering a method to do bad things?" and she responded on her blog:

I am responding to allegations made by Richard Dawkins that my book is critical of science. It is not... What do I actually say in my book? I point out that early research into sex determination techniques like amniocentesis and ultrasound went ahead for various reasons... But beginning in the 1960s a separate group of scientists proposed pushing along research into sex selection--not simply using existing techniques, but actively funding new work--for a reason that had nothing to do with avoiding disease or improving maternal health. These scientists were interested in sex selection’s significance in the developing world

She goes on to explain Western involvement in promoting sex-selection in the developing world, such as when the Population Council sent representatives to India to found a department of reproductive physiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, "which would later inaugurate sex selection trials resulting in the abortion of hundreds of female fetuses." She concludes, "While Western science is not to blame for the disappearance of tens of millions of females from the global population, some Westerners did play a role in bringing sex selection to Asia. It is this role I hope we can discuss." The idea that West played a role in promoting sex-selective abortions intrigued the Times' pro-life columnist Ross Douthat, who riffed off the book on his Monday column, saying that sex-selective abortion puts pro-choice liberals in a difficult position.

Notwithstanding the depredations of the Chinese politburo, most of the abortions were (and continue to be) uncoerced. The American establishment helped create the problem, but now it's metastasizing on its own: the population-control movement is a shadow of its former self, yet sex selection has spread inexorably with access to abortion, and sex ratios are out of balance from Central Asia to the Balkans to Asian-American communities in the United States.

This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren't human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute.

Douthat concludes saying that "the tragedy of the world's 160 million missing girls isn't that they're 'missing,'" the word many have been using. "The tragedy is that they're dead." The provocative line sparked a response from Think Progress's pro-choice blogger Matt Yglesias who invited Douthat to take part in a thought experiment: what if the sex-selection process took place at the contraceptive stage and women could simply choose a "boy pill" or a "girl pill."

On joint Douthatian and Yglesian principles, nobody's being killed here. But I think that if we found out that use of the "boy" pill was extremely widespread, this might still legitimately worry us for three kinds of reasons. One is that widespread use of the boy pill would express the inegalitarian idea that men are more valuable than women. A second is that widespread use of the boy pill would reflect the existence of ongoing inequities in society that make it the case that a male child is more valuable than a female child. The third is that there are plausible reasons to believe that even a relatively small gender gap in the population could have problematic macro-scale consequences for society.

As it happens, sex-selective medical intervention overwhelmingly takes the form of abortions. But there are plenty of reasons you might be concerned about the phenomenon that don't have to do with abortion specifically.

Earlier today, Douthat responded to the Yglesisas rebuttal:

I wasn’t suggesting that pro-choice liberals have no reason to be “concerned about the phenomenon” of 160 million missing girls. (I would hope that they’re concerned!) My point was that the story of sex-selective abortion creates more difficulties — both intellectually and, I would submit, emotionally — for abortion-rights supporters than it does for those of us on the pro-life side of the argument. For one thing, it presents a policy problem: If the right to abortion is a fundamental human liberty, how do you address sex selection without infringing dramatically on the right to privacy?

As the debate between Douthat and Yglesias will likely continue, the message of Hvistendahl's book continues to spread as she writes in various outlets. In her Monday Foreign Policy essay, Hvistendahl was careful to depict herself as unaligned with conservatives or Christians in the U.S., criticizing both pro-life and pro-choice groups as being overly-focused on domestic issues of abortion. "As American politicians argue over whether to cut Planned Parenthood's U.S. funding and the Christian right drives through bans on sex-selective abortion at the state level, the effects of three decades of sex selection elsewhere in the world are becoming alarmingly apparent, she wrote:

Four decades ago, Western advocacy of sex selection yielded tragic results. But if we continue to ignore that legacy and remain paralyzed by heated U.S. abortion politics, we're compounding that mistake. Indian public health activist George, indeed, says waiting to act is no longer an option: If the world does "not see ten years ahead to where we're headed, we're lost."

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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