Mara Hvistendahl made waves in 2011 with Unnatural Selection, her book profiling the global rise of sex-selective abortions. But two new studies highlighted by The Economist say the problem is poised to get worse.The studies look at the Caucasus, where the popularity of sex-selection rivals Asia’s high rates of male preference. The natural ratio of men to women is 105 men born for every 100 females. But in places like Georgia, the ratio is 120 to 100, and in Armenia, if the first child is a female, 61 percent of second children are sons. The scariest thing uncovered by the studies is that there could be more to come:
A study by John Bongaarts of the Population Council, a New York think-tank, uses surveys in 61 countries to calculate the sex ratios that would result if parents had the number of sons and daughters they wanted. It turns out that in half the countries, the desired ratio is more than 110 (higher than India’s, which is 108). Armenia and Azerbaijan are among those with the highest rates, but all over the world (especially Africa) parents say they want more sons. As Mr Bongaarts says, “there is a large pent-up demand for sex selection”. If the Caucasus is a guide, that demand can pretty easily be met.
Sex-selective abortion is a nearly intractable problem for American liberalism, because it brings two of its key values into conflict: the right to unrestricted abortion and female liberation and advancement. If sex-selective abortions are set to rise even more, throwing this conflict into sharper relief, liberalism may have an intellectual crisis on its hands.