Legal Insurrection notes an interesting contradiction at the Center for Reproductive Rights. In response to the demographic distortion that China’s one-child policy has produced, the CRR has called for an end to forced abortions and government imposition of reproductive policy. So far, so good; we can broadly agree on those goals. However, CRR also opposes gender-selective abortion, which is astoundingly hypocritical (emphases mine):
Our shadow letter underlined many areas of concern, including: harmful effects of the one-child policy such as forced abortion, coerced sterilization, and increased trafficking and abduction of women; limited access to infertility treatment; maternal mortality; sex-selective abortions; and deficiencies in sex education. The Committee, through its Concluding Observations, expressed concern over rights violations ensuing from these practices. It advised the Chinese government to investigate and prosecute instances of forced sterilization and abortion and to strengthen and enforce existing laws outlawing sex-selective abortion and female infanticide.
First, why not just protest infanticide in general? Is it only a problem when female infants are killed through direct action or purposeful neglect? I understand that the problem in China is focused on female infants, but if infanticide’s the problem, then we shouldn’t have to get gender-specific about the objection. Their objection looks specifically outcome-based rather than principled.
It seems CRR has a problem with choice that disproportionately disfavors females. They don’t object to abortion, unless the woman chooses to abort in order to avoid giving birth to a female. But how is that choice any less legitimate than any other reason to procure an abortion? For some, the gender relates to economic status and potential, criteria which in other contexts pro-abortion groups hail as rational considerations.
And doesn’t this negate the knee-jerk argument against outlawing abortions in general? If women want to abort because they carry female babies, then won’t they get back-alley abortions if CRR succeeds in keeping gender-specific abortions illegal? Shall we round up and arrest the mothers? The doctors? And if we can justify doing that for gender-specific abortions, why not do it for all abortions and stop the wholesale slaughter of human life altogether?
If one argues for a pro-choice position, then one would support all reasons for the choice. If CRR and its allies support abortion based on outcomes rather than the supposed ideal of choice, then it’s fair to argue what outcomes they’re really supporting.
Update: Mahablog responds with its usual vehemence for my noting the difference between infanticide and female infanticide, but apparently this blogger doesn’t do much research. CRR opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which tried to fight the problem of infanticide after botched late-term abortions in the US:
In addition to promoting abortion method bans and undermining access, abortion opponents are also supporting the expansion of fetal rights through the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (“UVVA”).143 This bill, similar to many introduced in state legislatures, would amend the federal criminal code to create a separate offense for death or bodily injury to a fetus during the commission of a federal crime. The penalty would be the same as that of death or injury to the pregnant woman herself.144 The bill elevates the status of a fetus, embryo, blastocyst (pre-implantation embryo), or zygote (fertilized egg) to that of the woman for purposes of the offense, and would treat such entities as independent persons for purposes of federal law.145
BAIPA was so non-controversial on Capitol Hill that even Barbara Boxer voted in support, and it passed in the Senate unanimously. Instead of supporting BAIPA as a means to end general infanticide here in the US, CRR opposed it as some sort of Trojan horse for what it calls “fetus rights”. CRR seems to have a problem with ending general infanticide in the US while pushing for action on female infanticide in China and India, among other places. Obviously, they’re not concerned about the actual infanticide as much as they are the way it is selectively applied in these places.
And still, we hear no intellectual defense of opposing choice on the basis of gender while approving on every other basis from CRR. If gender selection is illegitimate for abortion rights, then we can also say that every other choice besides rape and incest — where the woman had no choice to engage in the sexual act in the first place — is illegitimate as well.
Also, for some reason, I kept abbreviating CRR as CPR, which I’ve corrected.