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The Sad Reality of Sex-Selective Abortion in Washington


For the past few decades, states have struggled to implement laws that would protect the most basic rights of the most vulnerable members of our society: the unborn. While the issue of abortion maintains a high profile nationally, and has for a long time, there’s a large subset of abortion cases that rarely get mentioned at all: sex-selective abortions.

What is sex-selective abortion?  Sex-selective abortion is when a mother chooses to abort her baby based on dissatisfaction with the gender in which the child has developed.  The Population Research Institute estimates that sex-selective abortions take place more than 1.4 million times per year in India and China alone.  While this practice has historically been more common in Asia, it’s prevalence in the United States has grown dramatically.

Despite the reality that sex-selective abortions are one of the largest causes for abortions in the world, they rarely manage to make headlines in the U.S., generally dominated in debate by whether or not abortion should be available in cases of rape or incest.  In fact, according to Operation Rescue, not even 1 percent of all abortions take place because of rape or incest.

Several states have introduced legislative efforts this year to curb the practice, including Washington. The Washington Senate’s Committee on Law & Justice heard testimony on SB 6612, and was passed through to the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday night.  If ultimately passed, it would prohibit sex-selective abortions statewide. The bill, sponsored by Senator Ann Rivers (R-La Center), would make a performance of sex-selective abortions a Class C felony, violations of which result in penalties ranging from hefty fines to prison time.

The bill, sent now to the Senate Rules Committee, faces off directly against the abortion lobby.  Even though 17% of pregnant women in Washington have abortions, the abortion lobby appears to be greatly concerned with the rights of women to choose an abortion in any case they deem necessary, even if their life isn’t in danger.  (Watch: Abortion doc Anuj Khattar defends sex-selective abortion)

Despite this, it is important to shine a light on the role sex-selective abortions play in Washington, which Michael Pauley certainly did.

Pauley, testifying on behalf of Human Life of Washington, gave a compelling testimony about the alarming frequency of these types of abortions in the U.S.  Quoting a study conducted by the University of Connecticut Health Center, Pauley noted how there were “approximately 20,000 missing females in this subset of U.S. births from 1983 to 2002 or an average of 1000 per year.” Twenty thousand.

It’s important to note that studies also suggest prenatal sex-selection is particularly prominent — especially for 2nd and 3rd children — among Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S.  While this statistical observation may be offensive to some who oppose the bill, this is undoubtedly relevant to Washington, where these demographics comprise about 10% of the total population (about 700,000 people).

Now, this may not be surprising to some, given the long history of certain cultures preferring male babies over female.  Yet while rates may be higher overseas, sex-selection still takes place among these demographics here in the U.S., as well in other Western nations. As Pauley highlighted in his testimony, one study found “male-biased sex ratios among U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents in the 2000 U.S. Census,” evidenced by the finding that “if there was no previous son, sons outnumbered daughters by 50 percent.” This dramatic deviation in favor of sons is solid, yet troubling evidence that these types of abortions, motivated by a desire for one sex over another, are indeed occurring in the United States.

Most Americans — even supporters of abortion rights — can agree that choosing to end a pregnancy based on no other reason than unwanted sex is deeply disturbing, and is antithetical to the most basic standards of morality. Still, the practice is permitted in many places across the U.S., and progressive groups like NARAL Pro-Choice Washington are fighting SB 6612 from passing through the Senate.

For a state that claims to champion women’s rights, the status of those rights has been badly damaged in Washington.  From the abortion providers who pressure and mislead women into terminating their pregnancies, to the cover up of sexual abuse exhibited towards patients, and the recent rule made by the Human Rights Commission making it legal for men to access any public restroom, locker room, or shower facility statewide.  Women are not safer in Washington.

Senate Bill 6612 represents a real opportunity for the legislators of Washington to remove a threat to women at their earliest, most vulnerable stage of life.  It may not be possible to dissuade those whose cultures and ideology assure them it’s perfectly okay to end their child’s life because they don’t like its biological sex.  But, as Pauley explained to the Senate Committee Tuesday, identifying that the desire for sex-selective abortion exists is “only one-half of the economic concept of ‘supply and demand.'” What must be done to end this deplorable practice is to restrict those eager to supply these types of abortions.

It won’t be easy, given the fact that many who work in the abortion industry have no problem serving individuals who want a sex-selective abortion.  Despite this, we’re hopeful that with your help in supporting SB 6612, we can achieve this small step in the fight to protect human life.

The vast majority of sex-selective abortions are committed against females.  If you’re going to claim to be for women’s rights, you can’t be for sex-selective abortions.

Please call your legislators to support passage of SB 6612 in the Rules Committee and on the Senate Floor.

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