Sex Selective Abortion and the Moral Bankruptcy of the Left

I recently posted a link to a short essay I wrote explaining why I reject leftism. It was rather broad in scope and abstract in content, but now I have a more particular and concrete example to reinforce what I originally wrote. It pertains to news of Hillary Clinton’s recently declared opposition to “sex selective abortion” – that is, abortion that specifically targets the female unborn.

The moral confusion that reigns on the secular left and even significant parts of the pro-choice religious left never ceases to amaze me, though by now, it really ought to. For decades the overwhelming majority of secular liberals have supported abortion rights in the name of women and their “liberation”, their social advancement. As it turns out, however, in countries such as China, India, and even the United States, the majority of aborted “fetuses” are female. There are both practical economic and cultural reasons for sex selective abortion, but those aren’t really relevant here.

The glaringly obvious point is that there is a terrible contradiction at the heart of  modern feminism, between unconditional support for abortion rights and a desire to stop the extinction of women through female abortion and infanticide. In the irony of ironies, a “woman’s right to choose” more often than not means a choice not to bear a girl that will become a woman. The social consequences of sex selective abortions in countries such as China will be devastating as the male population vastly out-numbers the female population, reducing the pool of potential wives and increasing the number of alienated and frustrated bachelors.

But these social consequences, in my view, still pale in comparison to the moral implications of this dilemma. Another article notes that “[a]ccording to 2006 Zogby/USA Today poll, 86% [of Americans] would like to see [sex selective abortion] banned.” Yet nowhere near 86% of Americans want to see abortion in general banned. So, as it turns out, “choice” alone is not the most important thing to some abortion advocates and, it would seem, most abortion supporters, who are conspiring to, or desire to see, the banning of a choice that millions of women make each year. They have no problem whatsoever with telling a woman “what she can do with her body”, of wrapping around and squeezing female ovaries with the secular equivalent of their rosaries (in a parody of that stupid old slogan), of imposing themselves on this most “personal” decision. And they will do this all while continuing to  badmouth Christianity and the Catholic Church.

What it was really all about, from the beginning, was the destruction of the family and the “liberation” of both men and women from familial and parental obligations, which were seen as an obstacle to social advancement and, more nebulously, “self-fulfillment”. But now this utter devaluation and disregard for human life in the pursuit of self-interest, this lowest and most contemptible form of moral calculus has finally caught up to the abortion rights movement in a way that displeases them. If I didn’t understand where the impetus for this movement came from in the first place, I might have hope that it would result in a pro-life renaissance, a realization that life, after all, is a sacred and precious thing towards which society and individuals have obligations to protect and nurture, that cannot be commodified and thrown out with the garbage as soon as it is inconvenient.  Some in the movement may well come around to this point of view after experiencing these levels of confusion and hypocrisy.

The majority, though, if the polls are any indication, will continue to wallow in that confusion, hurling endless abuse at the pro-life movement for wanting to take away a woman’s choice while conspiring to do the same on their own terms.

It is actually painful and hurtful to see so many “pro-choice” advocates come so close to recognizing the value and sanctity of life, only to slip back into the self-centered darkness that alone prevents a person from understanding the immorality of abortion. Darkness is what they literally propose, for sex selective abortion bans can only exist through the banning of methods that allow couples to know the sex of their child during pregnancy. A couple that doesn’t know what their babies’ sex is can get an abortion without being guilty of “sex selection”.

On a practical level the technology that detects the sex of a baby is common enough now to exist even in the average third world clinic, and so I imagine a new generation of radical rebels, in spirit of the sexual revolution that the aging boomers brought about, will go “underground” to discover the sex of their child. And like the boomers and hippies and radicals of yesterday who lauded the abortion doctors of old as “heroes” for laboring under illegal conditions so that women could exercise the sacred right to “choose”, this new generation will praise as heroes those doctors who provide illegal knowledge of the sex of their unborn children so that they can decide whether or not they are trash to be disposed of (females) or commodities to be prized (males).

Then they will know something of what it is like to be the boring old fuddy-duddies that insist that, after all, individual choice is not sovereign where there are great moral and social interests at stake, that there are things in life more important than gratification and social and economic mobility and advancement, that the value of human life is not a thing to be subjectively decided by mothers but an objective quality, that there comes a time when parents must become adults so that they can raise children, instead of continuing to behave like children themselves. And maybe one or two of them will have that “ah-ha” moment and join Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Nat Hentoff, Norma McCorvey, and others in the camp of pro-life converts.

One can hope and pray.

14 Responses to Sex Selective Abortion and the Moral Bankruptcy of the Left

  1. I think this is where the inherent relativism of the position comes in. Wanting to abort because you don’t want to be a parent (or don’t want more children at the moment) seems like a familiar and understandable motivation to American pro-choice advocates, while wanting to abort simply because you only want a boy does not. There’s no understanding that the underlying act is the same.

  2. Eric Brown says:

    I could not agree more Joe (as you would expect). Such a contradiction seems to be glaring, but it is amazing how Mrs. Clinton has evidently trained herself to look straight pass it — assuming she does and I’m not going to speculate whether she does or not.

    I have the experience of being pro-choice, so I will not cast judgment. I will just continue to pray for her.

  3. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Bravo Joe! I would note that when a Leftist is outspokenly pro-life, I will always take seriously what they say on other issues. Nat Henthoff, for example, always has my undivided attention. I may not agree with him, but his unyielding fight against abortion and euthanasia establishes him to me as a person who takes morality seriously, and therefore I am going to take his arguments in other areas as made from a strong concern with right and wrong.

  4. BH says:

    Perhaps what we should take more seriously is the fact that parents choose to abort female fetuses because females are less valued by society. Your remark that there will be fewer “potential wives” is exactly the problem. Maybe when women are valued as whole individuals in their own right, and not as mates or wives or in any other necessary relationship with a man, sex-selective abortion will not be an issue.

  5. Cminor says:

    BH, in cultures in which women are second-class citizens it’s unlikely that they will ever have value as individuals before they have value as potential mates. It is because of the scarcity of females that young women in parts of Asia are finally beginning to have some value as commodities–unfortunately this has led to a thriving black market in abducted women, not greater respect for women:
    Perhaps extreme scarcity of the “wife” resource will lead to a change in outlook, but I doubt it as long as women are exploitable.

    I think you may have missed the point that in some of these societies adult women and unborn children are in the same boat–their value rests entirely in their wantedness, not in any concept of intrinsic worth. Western society claims a different outlook, yet the practice of placing value in the wantedness of unborn children persists. It is realities like the one described above–the exploitation of “free choice” to specifically target one gender–that should force proponents of “choice” to come to grips with what that “choice” actually means. Often, however, the response is complacency, denial, and more than a hint of applied schizophrenia.

  6. Joe Hargrave says:


    Women in all cultures are the ones doing the valuing and devaluing – they’re the only ones who can have abortions, after all – and you say that remarks such as the ones I made are “the problem”?

    Nowhere did I even remotely suggest that a woman’s value is bound to her value as a wife.

    But an imbalance between men and women IS a serious sociological problem because, like it or not, getting married and settling down is what normal human beings do. When they can’t do that for some reason, it creates social problems.

  7. Joe Hargrave says:

    Moreover, we can’t force women to change their views on the value of the younger members of their sex.

    We can however ban abortion – we can prosecute abortionists to the full extent of the law. Would that be an acceptable means to protect women?

    Or would you be ok with “blind” abortions where 50% of the time innocent female unborn children will die as opposed to 75% or 80% or 90%? Would that demonstrate sufficient “compassion” for women?

  8. e. says:

    With respect to Asia, from what I vaguely recall, wasn’t there actually a quota placed by communist China on how many children parents can have (I believe they could only have 1 or 2) that, because of such restriction, parents unfortunately felt compelled to abort (and, in some sad instances, cruelly murder) the female offspring in favor of a male.

  9. c matt says:

    What we should be taking more seriously is the fact that parents choose to abort at all.

  10. Joe Hargrave says:

    We do take it seriously.

    The point here is the disgusting hypocrisy of the misnamed “pro-choice” movement.

  11. Brett says:

    I see nothing in Joe’s comments that would indicate that he would not also see millions of missing men as a problem because it provides ‘fewer potential husbands’. Evolution divided us roughly 50-50 for a reason.

  12. Brett says:

    Wow! Has anyone read this link which showed up as ‘automatically generated’ under Joe’s piece above?

    Dear God . . .

  13. CMinor says:

    Wow, Brett,
    I’m surprised katrinesmiet wasn’t tied up in knots after that exhibit of semantic contortionism. Let’s see if I got this:

    The term “murder” doesn’t apply in an abortion, because

    The term “unborn child” is meaningless, thus

    It’s perfectly all right for women to do whatever they choose to whatever it is they’re carrying, but still

    It’s a troubling “larger pattern” that so many of them seem to be doing it to female whatever they ares

    This indicates that females are not valued in their society and besides

    It leads to a sex ratio imbalance that has resulted in kidnapping and all kinds of creepy marital arrangements going on and we can’t have that, so

    We have to somehow persuade people not to get rid of female whatchacallits without banning the practice entirely because that would be interfering with women’s freedom to get rid of unwanted whatchacallits even though women don’t really have freedom in this society anyway

    So we have to get people to respect women enough that they won’t want to get rid of them when they’re just female whatchacallits, so that they when they grow up they can off their unwanted whatchacallits for any reason other than that they’re female.

    If you just heard a loud noise, it was my head exploding.

  14. Habofanoe says:

    embroye and sperm are alive in themselves, conception is rather a start of a new life, a human person. who are you to kill? Alas! Abortion doers and assistance

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