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Disappearing Women
Sex-Selective Abortion Gains Ground in UK

We’re used to thinking about sex-selective abortion as a Third World phenomenon, but a new study finds that the barbarous practice has reached England’s shores. An investigation by The Independent into birth data for immigrant populations in England finds good evidence that sex-selective abortions have lead to the “disappearance” of between 1,400 and 4,700 women in the UK:

We found that in two-child families of some first-generation immigrants, having elder daughters significantly increases the chances of the second child being male – an imbalance in the sex ratio that should not occur naturally […]

“The only readily available explanation that is consistent with a statistically significant gender shift of the sort observed in the census data is gender-selective abortion,” Dr Anagnostopoulos [lecturer in statistics at Imperial College London] said.

It will be interesting to see whether sex-selective abortion turns into a flashpoint for European immigration and assimilation debates, which, in an era when nationalists and Euroskeptic parties are on the rise, are already very heated. This story also sets up a telling contrast with America. As the story explains, sex-selective abortions are illegal in England, but in 2012 a bill that would make them illegal in the United States failed to pass  the House.

This is just a specific illustration of a more general principle: In several ways, abortion law in Europe is more restrictive than in America. The American political battle lines, between zero-restriction abortion on demand and a total ban, are foreign to almost all other countries, where abortion is accepted and often state funded in ways that pro-lifers dislike, but also restricted in ways that the other side wouldn’t accept.

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  • TommyTwo

    “We would absolutely love to intolerably infringe on a woman’s right to choose implement some common-sense abortion regulations, but those darn Christianists will jump on our slightest concession and use it to realize their goal of subjugating women!”

  • BobSykes

    SCOTUS would almost certainly judge a bill to outlaw sex-selective abortions as unconstitutional. To judge otherwise would invalidate the whole chain of privacy arguments going back to Griswold v. Conn.

  • free_agent

    You write, “the barbarous practice”. Could you explain the reasoning behind this characterization? I don’t mean to be snarky here. Once one accepts that deliberate abortion is morally allowable at all, it would seem that the parents (or at least the mother) can make that decision based on any criteria they choose.

    And in the United States, childbearing decisions, at least among the educated classes, seem to be moving toward an “extreme K-selection strategy”, or what I call the One Perfect Child: Producing the best possible child that one can, and boosting it with the most extreme investment of resources that one is capable of. Selective abortion is already a part of that strategy. Just wait until we can genetically edit zygotes…

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