Technology and Sex Selection

The use of abortion to choose the gender of a child has long been a concern of the pro-life movement, especially in countries like China or India where cultural and legal norms make both gender selection and abortion more acceptable.  A new study is suggesting that some ethnic groups – specifically Chinese, Korean, and Indian – in the United States may also be using abortion to choose the gender of their children. William Saletan of has a good writeup of the study and some implications. 

However, the conclusion of the article is a bit confusing, 

If you think of yourself as a techno-progressive—someone who believes, as Barack Obama does, that “maximizing the power of technology” will help fix everything from energy to theenvironment to health care—the increase in sex selection should give you pause. Technology can facilitate regression as easily as it facilitates progress.

OK – I’m good with that.  I thought that “technology=progress=unlimited good” went out with the Victorians, but that’s fine if people are just now waking up to reality.  The rest of that paragraph is a bit odd. 

But if you think of yourself as a pro-life conservative, the data should humble you, too. In the populations in which it has increased, sex selection isn’t a newfangled perversion. It’s a custom, and a patriarchal one at that. If the sex-selection story teaches us all to be a bit more skeptical of both tradition and technology, that’ll be real progress.

Eh?  Perhaps some pro-life conservatives base their position of “patriarchal custom,” but I’m not aware of custom or patriarchy or tradition – much less Chinese, Korean, or Indian tradition – being used as a foundation for pro-life arguments in the United States.  

This recent story – about a Vietnamese man who runs an orphanage for unwanted children next door to an abortion clinic in Vietnam – notes that he receives donations from “Christian and Buddhist organizations.” I have not encountered any Buddhist or Hindu approaches to abortion – either for or against – so I would be very interested in learning more about how non-Western religions regard abortion. 

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