But what\’s wrong with aborting girls because they are girls?

The abortion of unwanted girls taking place in the UK
Illegal abortion on the grounds of gender may be taking place in Britain within immigrant communities, ministers have admitted for the first time after an official analysis of birth statistics.

The standard claim from certain quarters is that we should have abortion on demand. If asked for the reason that a woman wishes to kill another hujman being the answer \”because I don\’t want it to live\” is supposed to be a full and sufficient answer.

Assuming that this is what the situation ought to be there is no room for the objection \”but you can only do that if that human is male\”.

As soon as we do get to a position where there are exceptions to the mother\’s right, untrammelled, to decide who occupies her womb and for how long, there is similarly no reason why such exceptions should stop at \”but I don\’t want a girl\”. \”I don\’t want a baby\” is just as weak a moral statement as I don\’t want a female one.

You can\’t, I\’m afraid, have it both ways. Either there are restrictions on what it is permissible for women to abort or there are not. And if there are, then all such restrictions are up for debate again.

28 comments on “But what\’s wrong with aborting girls because they are girls?

  1. I’m convinced. As part of my support for abortion I now feel obliged to support sex-selective abortion. The solution to this is to convince people that girls are worthwhile – treat the cause, not the symptom.

    There’s no sarcasm in this post, incidentally – it’s a genuine expression of opinion on the subject.

  2. So, the people who ridicule the ‘slippery slope’ argument are introduced yet again to the concept of unintended consequences.

    I likewise predict that about 20 years after gay marriage is finally generally accepted that polygamy will follow.

    No sarcasm here I either. I personally don’t have a problem with it.

  3. “I likewise predict that about 20 years after gay marriage is finally generally accepted that polygamy will follow.”

    I can’t for the life of me understand why it would take 20 years to make that tiny logical step.

  4. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the diversity Asian immigrants bring to our country?

    I can’t imagine polygamy really being much of a problem, less than gay marriage anyway. Sibling incest will be a bigger issue, but if no offspring can be guaranteed, what is the argument against it? On the other hand, I expect that feelings on animal rights have developed to the stage where bestiality is unlikely to be accepted.

    I wonder how much propaganda would work. The Chinese government has done a lot of propaganda for the status of girls but I have been told by Chinese people that it has had next to no effect.

  5. I would wager that sibling incest would be so unusual as to make it irrelevant. So if two siblings want to roll in the hay and even marry (as they can already in Portugal, I think) then who cares? Same with polygamy, as long as all participants know.

    Bestiality is a different issue – the animal can’t decide for itself.

    As for abortion, I’ve said it before. The woman’s sovereignty over her own body trumps any right to life that a parasite may have. It may be unpleasant, and we may say that people shouldn’t do it, but the right has to be there. It’s the same basic principle that governs drug taking etc.

  6. I’m against abortion, but I can see why it might be OK to make it legal to abort but not to allow people to choose to abort only females, for all the reasons China and India etc. That is, too many young males and not enough females leads to societal problems.

    Of course, you cannot police it in an era when the conversation is as follows:

    Do you want this baby?

    No.

    Why?

    Mind your own business.

    No, you have to tell me, it’s the law.

    OK… er… I feel depressed about it?

    That will do.

  7. Abortion is legal under certain specified conditions; the foetus being female is not one of them. And we only have abortion on demand in practice – not in law.

  8. surely there will be a market correction at some point anyway? After a while boys would start to outnumber girls to an unhealthy degree (especially as – and I’m not a biologist so this could be drivel, but it seems right) the nature of human reproduction probably means that there should be a natural population imbalance in favour of girls.

    Too many boys chasing too few girls = boys leaving either through emigration or death as they fight over the girls.

    And this also means enhanced status for the girls that aren’t aborted as they become more in demand. So they’re the last people who should be complaining.

  9. Polygamy is a harder problem legally than gay marriage, mostly because of the entanglement of the state with people’s living arrangements. Gay marriage is relatively easy – if you were entitled to a certain benefit or had recognised next of kin rights (inheritance, authority over medical decisions, etc) as a straight couple, that now applies to your registered same-sex SO.

    But if you’re in a coma, which of your multiple wives or husbands makes the call about treatment? Senior spouse rule? Best of three voting?

    What about divorce? Let’s say one wife is taking 1 child of 5 away from the family, how would child support work?

    Of course, private contracts could address all these issues, but even now pre-nups and wills can be overturned by the courts.

    I still think it will happen, but it’ll take a while.

  10. Yes – in a nutshell, it’s the woman’s body and she can do as she likes with it. Until the foetus can exist on its own, then it is up to the mother whether she carries it.

    So free choice for women can reduce the number of women (although I suspect this is a male-led decision). Which will inevitably lead to a higher rate of homosexuality (regardless of whether this is social or biological, humanity tends towards homosexuality if there is less chance of hetrosexual contact), another unintended consequence for those valuing sons above daughters…

    None of this is of course any concern of government, me or you (unless me or you is having a baby…).

  11. “I likewise predict that about 20 years after gay marriage is finally generally accepted that polygamy will follow.”

    Enormously unlikely. The feminist movement do not perceive that to be in their interests, so it will never get widespread Progressivist support.

  12. A zygote, an embryo, a foetus neither biologically nor legally is a Human Being, no more than is a kidney or for that matter a spermatozoon or ovum.

    Insisting it is is like insisting there is a God, a matter of belief.

    Thr abortion laws restrict the freedom of the woman they do not extend freedom to an internal, maternal growth whatever it may one day turn out to be.

    The selectivity of the abortion laws is a sop to the moralising, religious brigade otherwise abortion would ever have remained verboten.

    As we increasingly ‘turn away from God’ and get fed up with the moralising brigade, and once we get used to cloning and/or genetic reconstruction and growing proto-humans in maturation chambers, the abortion laws will become irrelevant… resistance is futile.

  13. The usual solution for excess males (and in polygamous societies there are always excess males) is warfare.

  14. And this also means enhanced status for the girls that aren’t aborted as they become more in demand. So they’re the last people who should be complaining.

    That hasn’t been true historically. What usually happens is that the entrenched power (the men with lots of women) put further restrictions on women in order to keep their status. Rent-seeking, which often leads to the lower status men rent-boy seeking.

  15. A zygote, an embryo, a foetus neither biologically nor legally is a Human Being, no more than is a kidney or for that matter a spermatozoon or ovum.

    You might try explaining that to somebody who’s suffered a miscarriage.

  16. And there is, of course, a whole gamut of legitimate opinion between the “every sperm is sacred – as soon as it meets an egg” crowd and the “abortion on demand up to 24 weeks” crowd.

    The disabled lobby are now demanding that disability of the fetus is removed as a legitimate ground for abortion.

    “I don’t want a baby” is just as weak a moral statement as I don’t want a female one.

    Only through a particular moral prism. Which is yours and it’s your blog. But there are good reasons to disprove of eugenics (of which selective abortion is a method) without demanding a ban on abortion.

    Of course, a material difference is that “I don’t want a baby” is a decision that is usually able to be taken much earlier on than “it’s a girl, get rid of it.”

  17. John B – “A zygote, an embryo, a foetus neither biologically nor legally is a Human Being, no more than is a kidney or for that matter a spermatozoon or ovum.”

    I think that depends. On your definition of a biological human being. A foetus has a unique DNA combination. A unique human DNA combination. It looks like a human being in the biological sense to me.

    “Insisting it is is like insisting there is a God, a matter of belief.”

    Insisting it is not is a matter of belief too. Insisting it is at 24 weeks or whatever we have now, but it isn’t before isn’t even that.

    “Thr abortion laws restrict the freedom of the woman they do not extend freedom to an internal, maternal growth whatever it may one day turn out to be.”

    They do extend one important freedom to that internal growth – they give the freedom to have a chance at being born.

    “As we increasingly ‘turn away from God’ and get fed up with the moralising brigade, and once we get used to cloning and/or genetic reconstruction and growing proto-humans in maturation chambers, the abortion laws will become irrelevant… resistance is futile.”

    Not sure if that is a selling point and if so, a selling point for what. Myself I think this sounds dystopian and the best reason for banning abortion I have heard for a while.

  18. Ltw – “I likewise predict that about 20 years after gay marriage is finally generally accepted that polygamy will follow. No sarcasm here I either. I personally don’t have a problem with it.”

    I do. I too don’t think it will take 20 years but polygamy is one of the worse choices we could make. Democracy and monogamy go together hand in glove. There is no democratic society that is not monogamous that I can think of off hand – although India might come close. Even countries with recent histories of polygamy tend to remain authoritarian hell holes or worse.

    I recommend Laura Betzig’s Despotism and Differential Reproduction.

    What you mean is that we should embrace a legal reform that will mean the poor and the young will be priced out of the marriage market. What you mean is that we should embrace the end of democracy and its replacement by authoritarian or worse regimes. We only have to look at the African American community or Pakistan to see the results of polygamy.

  19. You may be right SMFS. However I was thinking along the lines of the Heinlein style of letting people work out their own arrangements (two frequently traveling husbands sharing one wife – why not?). Which is why I put such a long timeframe on it.

    I doubt that traditional polygamy a la Pakistan would survive contact with a Western society without legal coercion. Basically, I suspect liberty would win.

    Unfortunately, you are probably right that if polygamy is legalised it will be in the guise of accepting “other cultures’ beliefs” and in the traditional form. Which, yes, would be bad for lots of reasons.

  20. One form of polygamy that works pretty well is when one couple joins with another. Keeps things nice and balanced.

  21. Ltw – “You may be right SMFS. However I was thinking along the lines of the Heinlein style of letting people work out their own arrangements (two frequently traveling husbands sharing one wife – why not?). Which is why I put such a long timeframe on it.”

    Sure. Why not? The problem is it will put a premium on women. As rich men will want many wives and few poor men will want to share one. Whatever the law says, it will have to evolve to deal with this situation. Society too. Where women are in short supply, they are locked up for their own protection and traded. Liberty is not strong enough to overcome market forces and biology.

    “I doubt that traditional polygamy a la Pakistan would survive contact with a Western society without legal coercion. Basically, I suspect liberty would win.”

    I think liberty would die. Pakistan has had lots of contact with Western society and yet there it is. Pakistanis in Britain with even more contact with Western society are still to some degree polygamous. It is liberty that will die, not polygamy. The Turks ruled Greece and the result was that the Greeks look up Turkish Muslim mores not the other way around – in fact right around the Mediterranean where Muslims ruled, honour killings were common until the 1970s or so.

    “Unfortunately, you are probably right that if polygamy is legalised it will be in the guise of accepting “other cultures’ beliefs” and in the traditional form. Which, yes, would be bad for lots of reasons.”

    Actually we have a de facto situation already where someone like Donald Trump marries a series of young women in their prime child bearing years. No doubt a few of his ex-wives, with some of his money, can find a quasi-Gay former hairdressers to share that money with but in effect it is still de facto polygamy.

    23Matthew L – “One form of polygamy that works pretty well is when one couple joins with another. Keeps things nice and balanced.”

    Isn’t that just wife swapping? Besides, why would anyone think this is likely or plausible? Remember the Bounty – nine muntineers, six Polynesian men and eleven Polynesian women settled on Pitcairn. They immediately started fighting over the women resulting in one muntineer and nine women surviving when an American sealer found them. Although one of the men had fallen over while drunk. The others had all been murdered.

  22. @johnb

    >As we increasingly ‘turn away from God’ and get fed up with the moralising brigade

    The anti-God brigade come across as pretty moralising, to me.

  23. The woman’s body is her property. She can evict anyone she likes from that property. If you don’t like property rights, Tim, then really you should say so.

    The fact that the foetus can’t survive after eviction is rather the foetus’ problem, isn’t it?

  24. This isn’t really relevant, but I’m telling everyone ;-). My daughter has just be born 11 Jan 2013. 6 rounds of IVF, and 30k (ours, not the taxpayers). A bargain at twice the price though.

  25. Suppose, for a thought experiment, you are in a hut in the snowy mountains. It’s your hut, you have every right to it.

    You hear a knock on the door. You get up to answer and you find a baby in a basket. It’s not yours – you have no way of knowing where in the blizzard is the person who put the child there.

    What is your duty? If you can, you must care for the child. There is the long and short of it – you can’t object that you didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it, didn’t do anything to deserve the duty of care. If you slam the door and leave the baby outside you are a murderer.

    Once a baby in the womb has reached the point that all it needs is the food and care that any primitive human could provide, it is in the position of the baby in the snowstorm. At that point it doesn’t matter how it got there, or whether it is welcome or not. If you can care for it, and you are the only person who can care for it, you must do so, or you are a murderer.

    (For the avoidance of doubt, I would put that point at about the 28 weeks as conventionally counted, as being the limit of any reasonable possibility of survival from a natural birth – if you want to appeal to natural law you cannot demand high technology interventions after all)

    And that’s me, generally supportive of abortion rights. But bloody well do it while it is still a person-to-be, not a person.

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