Earlier today, I urged you to read Peter Wehner’s post about the way in which Leftist ideology paves the way for massacres — massacres that the Left often refuses to ignore, because they don’t fit into the Leftist narrative. I was thinking about this peculiar morality in connection with a comment I saw on a friend’s facebook page regarding the abortion war certain countries are waging against girls. A good summary can be had in Jonathan Last’s review of Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men:
In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio is biologically ironclad. Between 104 and 106 is the normal range, and that’s as far as the natural window goes. Any other number is the result of unnatural events.
Yet today in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, the number is 121—though plenty of Chinese towns are over the 150 mark. China’s and India’s populations are mammoth enough that their outlying sex ratios have skewed the global average to a biologically impossible 107. But the imbalance is not only in Asia. Azerbaijan stands at 115, Georgia at 118 and Armenia at 120.
What is causing the skewed ratio: abortion. If the male number in the sex ratio is above 106, it means that couples are having abortions when they find out the mother is carrying a girl. By Ms. Hvistendahl’s counting, there have been so many sex-selective abortions in the past three decades that 163 million girls, who by biological averages should have been born, are missing from the world. Moral horror aside, this is likely to be of very large consequence.
It sounds like a factually interesting book, although Last makes it very clear that Hvistendahl damages her book severely by dancing around the core moral issue here, which is that making abortion commonplace inevitably leads to this kind of moral disaster. Thus:
There is so much to recommend in “Unnatural Selection” that it’s sad to report that Ms. Hvistendahl often displays an unbecoming political provincialism. She begins the book with an approving quote about gender equality from Mao Zedong and carries right along from there. Her desire to fault the West is so ingrained that she criticizes the British Empire’s efforts to stamp out the practice of killing newborn girls in India because “they did so paternalistically, as tyrannical fathers.” She says that the reason surplus men in the American West didn’t take Native American women as brides was that “their particular Anglo-Saxon breed of racism precluded intermixing.” (Through most of human history distinct racial and ethnic groups have only reluctantly intermarried; that she attributes this reluctance to a specific breed of “racism” says less about the American past than about her own biases.) When she writes that a certain idea dates “all the way back to the West’s predominant creation myth,” she means the Bible.
Ms. Hvistendahl is particularly worried that the “right wing” or the “Christian right”—as she labels those whose politics differ from her own—will use sex-selective abortion as part of a wider war on abortion itself. She believes that something must be done about the purposeful aborting of female babies or it could lead to “feminists’ worst nightmare: a ban on all abortions.”
It is telling that Ms. Hvistendahl identifies a ban on abortion—and not the killing of tens of millions of unborn girls—as the “worst nightmare” of feminism. Even though 163 million girls have been denied life solely because of their gender, she can’t help seeing the problem through the lens of an American political issue. Yet, while she is not willing to say that something has gone terribly wrong with the pro-abortion movement, she does recognize that two ideas are coming into conflict: “After decades of fighting for a woman’s right to choose the outcome of her own pregnancy, it is difficult to turn around and point out that women are abusing that right.”
Hvistendahl is not unique in her thinking. Circling back to the facebook comment I saw, someone essential said that, while all of this is very sad, it’s still better than the ancient practice of exposing unwanted girl babies to the elements. The problem isn’t one of morality, you see; it’s just a utilitarian issue. I see mass murder; they see a sad, but relatively humane way that lesser cultures deal with a long-standing societal quirk.
I’m not sure how to wrap up this post. I’ll let you add whatever codas you please.