Thursday, 6 February 2014

Sex-Selective Abortion



I think one of the strengths of using a bodily rights argument in defense of abortion is that it still leaves room for the pro-choice advocate to be against sex-selective abortion.  From my limited experience I've found that I am not the only pro-choicer who believes sex-selective abortion is immoral and should be illegal, but if the fetus is not a person with a right to life I think it is difficult to defend that view while being consistent.  For those PC people who agree that sex-selective abortions should be illegal, here is an argument I've found helpful for defending this position. 

P1: It should always be illegal to discriminate against persons on the basis of sex.
P2: Sex-selective abortion is discrimination against a person on the basis of sex.
P3: Making sex-selective abortion illegal would not violate the mothers bodily autonomy.
C: Therefore, sex-selective abortion should be illegal. 

I think most people can agree with the first two premises (P1 and P2), so I'm not going to defend them in this article.  That being said if you disagree with one of those premises let me know and I'll try and make a new post addressing your concerns.  What I am going to focus on is the third premise, "making sex-selective abortion illegal would not violate the mothers bodily autonomy".

It seems to me that although persons should have the right to deny others the use of their body to survive they do not have the right to know the sex of the people they have the option of helping.  Take the following example: people are not forced to donate blood however, if someone decides to donate blood they are not able to chose the sex of the person they donate to.  I don't believe this is an injustice.  This shows that although all persons have the right to decide not to donate the use of their body they do not have the right to know the sex of the person they are donating to.  I think it follows from this that although women have the right to decide whether or not they will allow a fetus to use their body to survive, they do not have the right to know whether the fetus is a male or female.  So, I think the state could make it illegal for women to know the sex of their fetus before an abortion while still preserving the bodily rights of women.  And if I am right in thinking that sex-selective abortion is discrimination and discrimination should be illegal I think it follows that the state should make it illegal for women to know the sex of their fetus before an abortion (therefore making sex-selective abortion illegal). 


 

3 comments:

  1. Obviously, I agree that sex-selective abortion should be illegal alongside all abortion, but here are my thoughts on this article.

    If abortions should be an acceptable choice to a pregnant mother--as acceptable as parenting or adoption-- then this argument doesn't hold water.

    If you are pro-choice, then you believe that a woman should have the decision to abort for any reason that she sees fit. Her body. Her choice. Right?

    Well, if that is the truth, then using the logic of this argument, you are saying that it should be illegal for a woman to know the sex of her baby before she decides to give it up for adoption or to keep it.

    I heard a story recently of boy/girl twins that were born, and the mother decided to adopt out the girl and keep the little boy. She made one choice for one child, and another choice for the other. This choice was made simply on the gender of the child. Should that be illegal too?

    How do you feel about abortion for babies that have down-syndrome, or some other non-life threatening genetic defect, like albinism? Wouldn't aborting a fetus with a disability (not to the parent's expectations) be the same thing as aborting a fetus that isn't the "right" sex?

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  2. "Obviously, I agree that sex-selective abortion should be illegal alongside all abortion."

    I'm glad we have some common ground :)

    "If you are pro-choice, then you believe that a woman should have the decision to abort for any reason that she sees fit. Her body. Her choice. Right?"

    I think being pro-choice simply means that you think, in general, abortion should be legal. From my experience, most pro-choice people think that at least some abortions should be illegal. For example, a lot will draw a line at viability and be against late term abortions, many will say that abortions that cause the unborn pain should be illegal etc. So, although all pro-choice people think most or many abortions should be legal I don't think all pro-choice people think that all abortions for any reason should be legal. Undoubtedly, there are some PC people who do think that. All I'm saying is that many, perhaps a majority, have some situations where they think abortion should be illegal.

    "I heard a story recently of boy/girl twins that were born, and the mother decided to adopt out the girl and keep the little boy. She made one choice for one child, and another choice for the other. This choice was made simply on the gender of the child. Should that be illegal too?"

    I think it follows from the argument I outlined above that her bodily rights would not be violated if they made it illegal for her to know the sex of her children. I don't think it necessarily follows that it should be illegal for her to know the sex of the unborn. If choosing one over the other is discriminatory then it would follow from my argument, if it is not then it wouldn't. But I believe whether or not it is discrimination is debatable. I'm definitely willing to have that conversation, but it would require going slightly off topic and delving deeper into questions about what discrimination is and why certain forms of it are wrong. Do you want to have a conversation like that?

    "How do you feel about abortion for babies that have down-syndrome, or some other non-life threatening genetic defect, like albinism? Wouldn't aborting a fetus with a disability (not to the parent's expectations) be the same thing as aborting a fetus that isn't the "right" sex?"

    I find it very plausible that aborting babies just because of a minor disability may be discriminatory, but I don't think it necessarily follows from my argument. It depends on what makes discrimination wrong and why women abort babies with those disabilities.

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  3. You might find the "Refutations" document at fightforsense.wordpress.com useful (it is Public Domain).

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