Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mara Hvistendahl takes another shot at trying to explain her position on abortion

Mara Hvistendahl attempts to defend her opposition to sex-selection abortions but support of legal abortion in a piece for Foreign Policy. She writes,
That said, selecting for sex -- or any other quality -- is different from a woman's decision not to carry a pregnancy to term.
But what if a woman's decision not to carry a pregnancy to term is based her desire to select for sex? Then aren't they one and the same?

When parents choose to have a child because he is male, they may do so with the expectation that their son will turn out to be an upstanding heir or that he will carry on the family line. Or, should they want a girl, they may be seeking a child who enjoys wearing pink dresses and playing with dolls. Ethically, this is worlds apart from a woman's choice not to continue a pregnancy -- or not to get pregnant in the first place. One is the decision of a woman considering her own body. The other involves the creation of a new human being -- and expectations for how that human being will turn out.
What if a woman considers her own body and decides she doesn't want a female child in it? Does that make sex-selection abortion okay?

Why is selecting for sex "worlds apart" than selecting for economic conditions or health? If you ever read the stories of women considering abortion or who've had abortions, they often discuss their expectations of their unborn children. They often discuss their current economic situation and how that situation would effect their child. Or how they want the child born into a stable environment.

Hvistendahl merely asserts aborting children based on sex is ethical "worlds apart" from aborting children because of other desires pregnant women may have for their lives or the lives of their children. There's no argument here. All we have is Hvistendahl's belief that some choices pregnant women make are wrong.

That's fine and dandy but once you accept that pregnant women can make bad decisions about their pregnancies and that some of their choices should be regulated, then you kind of blow a Titanic-sized hole in the pro-choice position which values the autonomy of the woman and her decisions above all.

Unfortunately, Hvistendahl still hasn't come to the realization that you can't use "choice" or "trust women" or "consideration of her body" type language and still consistently oppose sex-selection abortion.


  1. I agree with you that Mara is confused and wrong, but her book Unnatural Selection is excellent. I believe it a must read for all pro-lifers. She painstakingly traces the gendercide of females in Asia to population control advocates from the United States. From the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations to Disney, they all helped make sure 163 million Asian women never made it out of the womb in the name of preventing Asians from reproducing. Powerful stuff.

  2. Rebecca,
    I completely agree regarding the book's excellence and it being a must-read. The chapter on population control advocates is especially informative.