Gender-based abortions gaining ground in U.S., say experts

.- The practice of sex-selective abortions that has unbalanced the male-female ratio in many Asian and Muslim countries is now believed to be happening among immigrant communities in the United States. 

In a sex-selective abortion, parents choose to abort their unborn child based on whether he or she is of the sex they prefer.  In communities where the practice is common, female babies tend to be disproportionately aborted.

According to Stephen W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, a recent study from the National Academy of Sciences examined whether sex-selective abortion happened in the United States.  Researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund, examining figures from the 2000 U.S. Census, noticed that U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents tended to be male.

Investigating what they called “son-biased sex ratios,” the researchers examined the effect of birth order.  First-born children of the Asian demographic groups under study showed a normal sex ratio at birth, roughly 106 girls for every 100 boys.  If the first child was a son, the sex ratio of the second-born child was also normal.

However, in cases where the first child was a girl the researchers found that the second child tended to be a boy.  Almond and Edlund said, “This male bias is particularly evident for third children: If there was no previous son, sons outnumbered daughters by 50%.”  According to Mosher, this means that, in families already with two girls, for every 150 third-born boys there were only 100 surviving third-born girls. 

The researchers concluded the imbalanced sex ratios were evidence of sex-selection, “most likely at the pre-natal stage.”

Similar sex imbalances have been documented among Canadian Asian immigrant communities.  The Toronto Globe & Mail reported that, according to 2001 Canadian census data, the proportion of girls under age 15 in the South Asian communities of two cities is two percentage points below the ratio for the rest of the population in the same cities.

Stephen Mosher, citing a 2006 Zogby/USA Today poll, said that 86 percent of Americans support banning sex-selective abortion.

Mosher, noting similar but ineffective bans in China, argued that banning the use of ultrasounds to detect the sex of unborn children would be ineffective.  Instead, he argued that a “straightforward” ban on sex-selective abortion would be the best approach.  Former Senator Jesse Helms, Mosher said, introduced legislation to ban the practice each year he was in the U.S. Senate.

“Where is the pro-life champion in the Senate who will carry on Helm's battle? Where is the legislator who will seek to protect unborn baby girls from the ugliest form of misogyny imaginable, a misogyny that kills?” Mosher asked.

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