Important news from across the pond
For those of us in the United States, November 4th is election day. Of particular concern to pro-lifers, the November 4th election will determine control of the Senate, which approves Supreme Court nominees. Given the age of some of our current Justices, both pro- and anti-abortion, there’s no telling what could happen between now and the beginning of the next presidential administration.
But November 4th is a significant day for pro-lifers in the U.K. as well. On that day, a bill on sex-selective abortion will be introduced to Parliament.
According to Stop Gendercide, the bill is needed to address significant ambiguity in the law:
Recently, it has emerged that the terms of the Abortion Act have been so
widely interpreted that they may even permit an abortion on ground of fetal
The three biggest institutions representing those who regulate and perform
the majority of abortions in the UK all disagree on sex-selective abortion.
The Government argues that ‘abortion on the grounds of gender alone is
illegal’. However, the British Medical Association disagrees, arguing
that there are sometimes mental health grounds for a sex-selective
abortion. The British Pregnancy Advisory (BPAS) disagrees with both the
Government’s and BMA’s interpretations of the law. In their literature, still
available on their website, they pose the question ‘Is abortion for reasons
of fetal sex illegal under the Abortion Act?’ They answer ‘No. The law is
silent on the matter’.
The bill is designed to “remove all doubt” that sex-selective abortion is illegal.
The U.K. has a well-documented sex-selective abortion problem. A recent undercover investigation by the Telegraph found that abortion for sex selection was available “with no questions asked,” and that abortion business staff “were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the procedures.” (What I would give to have similar media-led investigations in the United States. Instead, the mainstream media is so stubbornly supportive of abortion that the pro-life movement has to conduct those investigations itself; hence the existence of Live Action.)
If you live in the U.K., Stop Gendercide encourages you to write to your MP in support of the bill. And they encourage everyone, around the world, to support the campaign on social media.
"However, the British Medical Association disagrees, arguing that there are sometimes mental health grounds for a sex-selective abortion."
I would really like to know what mental health problem sex-selective abortion supposedly cures.
Familial, cultural pressures perhaps.
Its sad that mainly Asian countries put ridiculous pressure on women to produce male heirs. In Japan to this day, if so many girls are born after so many tries, sometimes the woman is deemed "Onna Bara" (女腹), and she may be treated pretty horribly by her in-laws, its all HER fault, and this is in a 1st world nation. I can't imagine what it must be like for women from less wealthy countries.
And the irony is, the Y chromosome necessary to make a boy comes from the husband… What is needed is better education for all. Superstition and ignorance just ends up bad for all.
That said, I think sex-selective abortion is horrible. I still am pro-choice, but this one is a real moral dilemma. Combined with reasonable restrictions, say no abortions past 20 wks, I think a workable compromise may be possible, since sex cannot be discerned by an ultrasound until about this time.
So you must understand the hypocrisy of people that will argue that taking away any reason to abort is against women's rights? Even if that reason is the sex of the fetus in utero is inherently pro women's rights. This right to exist argument is the slippery slope and the entire reason I'm pro-life. I can't draw a line on an implanted viable embryo. I don't care if its going to be male, female, trans, w/e I still think it has a right to exist.
I mean hypothetically, someone could argue that it's better to keep aborting girls than be ostracized and beaten by your in laws. Of course, that seems like victim blaming to me.
Except the 'right to exist' doesn't include a right to lay claim to another person's body.
My point was that regarding sex-selective abortion, education and increasing the status of women, at least in Japan, has nearly eliminated this problem. I'm not saying abortion as a solution, but that a long-term solution is giving women completely equal status in pay, education etc., and giving them reproductive freedom. Sex-selective infanticide was common in Japan a hundred years ago. Sex-selective abortion is unheard of, our F/M ratio of born babies is completely natural. And 90% of our populous approves of abortion.
>> So you must understand the hypocrisy of people that will argue that taking away any reason to abort is against women's rights?
There are 2 issues. I think this whole issue could be eradicated by progressive policies that elevate women in general.
Focusing only on the immediate problem of sex-selective abortion, I am torn between a woman's right to have an abortion, which I firmly believe in, and this particularly horrible reason to have one. I agree with you on that. While I am pro-choice, I also believe certain restrictions, such as saying no abortions after wk 20, are warranted. For such a policy, a sex-selective abortion may only be possible after such time.
But overall, I think societal attitude towards women will make this issue largely moot. Japan is an example of this.
BTW, great point. This blog entry does bring up an important issue. However, I do think it could have done better by discussing another point of view, that of leaving choice, but increasing women's societal stature. Japan is an example of a country that had common sex-selective infanticide in the past, but now our sex-ratio of infants is natural. True, Japan has a long way to go in its treatment of women, but it also has progressed in its attitudes over the last century. Japan now has practically legal abortion that is supported by 90% of the populace, and has largely left its female infanticide days behind. Chalk it up to societal progress and women's rights.
And unfortunately, in countries where abortion just isn't an option, usually for the rural poor, female infanticide is the preferred method.
Infanticide was common in Japan until 70 years ago. Then abortion was practically legalized. Now infanticide highly uncommon.
What's the difference?
Embryos can't suffer. Babies can.
Not only pain, but if your entire existence consists of total sensory void and never have had desires fears or hopes and can't feel pain, I don't think it possible to be harmed. Infanticide in many poor countries is a fact of life. Wouldn't you rather have an abortion than infanticide?
Are zygotes tortured if you put them in a freezer?
Wouldn't a being have to be sentient to "lay claim" to someone's body?
I still don't see the difference.
I have a friend ( Japanese) who was indifferent to abortion until the loss of her first son at 16 weeks. The trauma was enough that she waited a year before trying again. She said it was holding her dead "zef" in her hands and seeing his perfectly formed body that changed her.
Thank you BTW for the info about Japanese thoughts on abortions. It explains her previous thoughts.
Nope. The embryo uses might makes right to overpower the woman's immune system, manipulate her hormones, and implant.
With government help, say if abortion was illegal, the woman's body is basically "claimed" as state property on behalf of the embryo. Forced abortion is the same – using women's bodies as a mere means to an end. This is what anti choice is all about.
Well, still our country is 90% supportive of it. My mom also had one, and she firmly believes it is every woman's right to decide. Also, losing a wanted baby vs. an unwanted pregnancy is a HUGE difference.
As for Japanese thoughts on this, I also think it is cultural. The reverence of your relatives and the Buddhist altar we keep as remembrance of those who passed. A suiko or suiji is an aborted or miscarried fetus. People often keep those on their altars as well. In a sense, they are still with you.
I really enjoy your stories about Japanese culture. I am really glad you post here.
A declining abortion rate is what has happened here in the USA since abortion became legal and available. My conclusion? Women can be trusted to run their own sexual/family lives.
"So you must understand the hypocrisy of people that will argue that taking away any reason to abort is against women's rights?"
You might want to let the UN WHO and the Guttmacher people know you disapprove of their position that abortion and contraception are human rights.
I am sure they will be very concerned.
At what point can the typical human embryo or human fetus feel pain?
So fetuses are persons then.
I'm not sure how that follows from what I said.
The obvious difference is that had the pregnancy gone to full term, she wouldn't have been holding a dead zef in her hands. Overwhelming odds she would have been holding a live infant. The loss of a wanted pregnancy is irrelevant to abortion. I'm assuming she wanted a baby.
Where did he say that?
I second Plum Dumpling. I've always been fascinated by other cultures and their similarities and differences. It's taught me that people are pretty much the same wherever you are. They all want similar things out of life.
It would be better to argue against the ignorant belief that a woman has ANYTHING to do with the sex of her offspring, because she doesn't. She can only contribute an X chromosome. The male determines the genetic sex of the offspring every time.
See, Purple Slurpy, you keep saying this. You know a 20 week fetus has zero chance of life outside the womb. Yet a 20 week fetus may threaten it's mother's health. I'm assuming you mean that the life of a fetus, even at 20 weeks, never justifies endangering the mother. For example, toxemia means the pregnancy must be ended.
Of course not.
Awesome post. Thank you.
I second or third that.
Yeah, that is what I mean. If life endangering, I support abortion til the very end. 20 wks is arbitrary, I just remember my own experiences, I seem to remember that is about the time I started feeling my son kick, and give rudimentary responses to our voices. Most people who need an abortion for other reasons besides life of mother endangerment have them earlier anyway, and I just feel around 20~25wks is when it might be reasonable to start seeing a fetus as an actual baby. So it seems to me a good compromise between the rights of the woman and respect for life. While I don't consider say a 1wk fetus a person, I do consider it a life and a human, and feel that killing it is not completely ethically neutral, just that when weighed against a grown person, the grown person's rights have a higher priority.
Thanks Plum. It never occurred to me to compare the two countries, but it just dawned on me that there is NO pro-life movement in Japan, yet its not like there is rampant abortions or a disrespect for life, which got me to think about what could be the reason that in the US, this issue is so divisive, yet in many other parts of the world, its such a non-issue.
Not possible until birth, actually, as it is sedated and anaesthetized in utero.
However, the capacity to feel pain is not present until roughly 35 weeks gestation, when it can distinguish touch from pain:
Incidentally, my wife was a nurse in the NICU of the Japanese Red Cross, and dealt daily with babies born at under 1000g. I am more of a feminist than she is, but she loves them babies, yet she also has no qualms about abortion. She's never heard of pro-choice or pro-life, its just a reasonable medical procedure to her.
That is one of the great things I learned from you. Do you have the kind of political zealot/terrorists we have? Timothy McVeigh or sovereign citizens types? I think of this dangerous zealot thing we have going in America as unique to us.
Woops, sorry. No they don't keep the fetus on their alters. They have those cremated as is law in Japan, and will often go to a Suiko shrine, and have their souls prayed for. They then receive a trinket which often is placed in their home alters. Maybe that confusion lead you to your comment.
The heart doesn't grieve what the eyes don't see. Also helps when you cannot identify with an earlier stage of your development. Give it a human form and placed in sight it can change matters.
Just wondering why one would attach memorial, familial and spiritual significance to a non person.
Not everyone goes to the shrine, but a lot do. If you ever visited Japan, you'd see that our houses are tiny. 80% of the land is actually mountainous and not livable. Our cities are crowded, and you really get the sense that resources are limited – a feeling you just don't get living in the US. Having an unwanted child can be a serious strain, especially if you are living in a tiny house with an extended family, something that is still quite common. Also, day care is a nightmare in our country, with severe shortages. Government certified day care centers are available, but there is a lottery system. If you don't get a government certified spot, you will have to pay a lot of money to get day care. If the family can't survive without a double income, this is a serious concern. Uncertified day care will cost almost as much as what a woman working part time would make. The living situation makes people realistic about how many children they can support. Many women therefore make realistic decisions, and they most likely will feel sadness at their decision. That is why they keep these trinkets, and will apologize to their child for not being able to give birth.
The idea that the fetus is a "person" sounds very very strange to the average Japanese person as it does to me. But still you can grieve for your missed chance at giving birth. So having a memorial doesn't seem all to strange to me. It also might have to do with the rather animistic Shinto religion, where we see spirits in everything around us, the trees, the mountains, rocks.
That is the saddest thing I have heard about Japan. It does help define your stance for me. Thank you.
There was a lot of political strife in the 60s, mirroring the US. Religious zealots are rarer, but there was the infamous sarin gas attack on the metro by the Aum cult. Of the Japanese who keep track of American and Western society, they often feel that Western religions drives people to extreme behavior in a way that Buddhism and Shintoism just don't do. You don't see Buddhist priests giving fiery sermons, and it is not a religion bent on converting others. Of course, we do have our analogues to slimy televangelists and religious con-men. On the flip side, the extreme behavior in the west has inspired great ambition, exploration and exploitation – good and bad behaviors. These qualities are somewhat lacking in the Asia, IMHO.
>> Just wondering why one would attach memorial, familial and spiritual significance to a non person.
People also display pictures of pets near family alters these days, and Japanese kids will sometimes have funerals for their pet beetles when they die. You can certainly have memorials for these non-people.
WWII as Japan's moment of zealotry unleashed. Makes sense. Might even account for the flexibility and fairly swift changes in Japanese culture nowadays.
No problem, I think its good to know why people believe what they do in addition to what they believe. My stance comes from materialism, that there is no soul or spirit. If my mind is not in place to experience pain, suffering or sorrow, and I have never been conscious, killing me or aborting me could not possibly have any real consequences. Lamenting lost future possibilities is totally moot to me if I have never gained the ability to lament in the first place, and their is no soul to lament it in the existential realm. And all this coupled with what I see in the real world in countries where abortion is readily available, that choice doesn't make people have frivolous abortions, that abortions will decline and make infanticide extinct, in my mind tells me that choice is a good social policy.
An embryo/fetus does not have and never will have the right to force a woman into a pregnancy she does not want.
You cannot force anyone living or even dead to donate their organs against their will. Why are you giving special rights to the potential and taking away the rights of the actual person?
I have a formal memorial garden for deceased pets. I have stopped burying pets and now have them cremated. I have the urns on display, along with a memorial ornament that commemorates my brother. Memorialization certainly isn't limited to persons. It's interesting to hear how it's done in other cultures.
The same thing happens every day in the United States,
It's not really an issue here, either. The anti-choice are not concerned with life. They're concerned with punishing women. If life concerned them they wouldn't be pushing to cut health care and food programs for poor mothers and children. They wouldn't be cheering at employers cutting off access to contraception either.
In Japan, cremation is law. You can't be buried whole. No room, our cemeteries mirror our 800sq. ft homes.
Strange, does Ann not memorialize her pets?
It looks like its becoming an issue…
You can't take away every reason for abortion. My mother wanted a baby, and ended up with an abortion because the pregnancy went horribly wrong. She had to scrap that pregnancy and try again, which resulted in my brother. I believe we could do a much better job of eliminating the reasons for a lot of abortions. But even in those areas, we're moving backward. You can thank the "pro-life" politicians you keep voting for who cut Medicaid, cut SNAP, cut WIC, cut subsidized child care, and cut programs for the disabled for that.
Um, that was an attempt to explain that the real issue is not "life." Put your thinking cap on.
The personhood for zygotes state of MS is so pro life that they have the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, all because they don't want to spend money on helping black people.
Some people don't memorialize pets. Some do. To me, their lives were important. I also plan on cremation for myself, after any usable organs or tissues are removed. I don't believe in cemeteries in general. My survivors will scatter my ashes at the beach, and that's how they can honor me.
The community at large does not really care. Only the PL extremists do…
An embryo doesn't feel anything and it should not be placed above the pregnant woman who does feel things.
This right to exist argument is the slippery slope and the entire reason I'm pro-life.
Except there is no such right.
You are arguing for the "personhood" (a legal status) of a zygote … which automatically diminishes the personhood of an actual *person,* the pregnant woman.
These "sex-selection abortion" bills are ridiculous in countries like the UK and the US where it simply is not an issue. It's just more anti-choice bread and circuses.
Only to an imbecile …
That's because you didn't understand what he wrote … and because you think all cultures are like your own.
This is the email I wrote to my MP on this proposed bill:
Although there is very little evidence that sex-selective abortion is a major problem in the UK, the MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, intends to speak on a 10-Minute-Rule Bill tomorrow in the Commons, after 11:30.
The Department of Health produced "Guidance in Relation to Requirements of the Abortion Act 1967" which states that abortion on the grounds of gender is not lawful.
BMA ethics committee chair Tony Calland said that, while overall the new guidance contained helpful clarification of issues concerning abortion law, the association had some concerns about it.
Dr Tony Calland, the chair of the BMA ethics committee, said that while the BMA believes it is 'normally unethical' to terminate a pregnancy on the basis of fetal sex, there could be exceptional circumstances not covered in the guidance. 'We recognise that in some cases doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects of having a child of a particular gender are so severe to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman as to provide legal and ethical justification for an abortion.'
The only evidence that sex-selective abortion may be affecting some women in the UK is some fairly complex data analysis of discrepancies in the sex ratio of children in some immigrant families as reported in the 2011 Census data. There is no evidence to say that the sex-selective abortions which may have taken place occurred in the UK.
The Telegraph carried out a sting operation on several abortion providers, in which anti-choice journalists lied to doctors, claiming they were seeking a sex-selective abortion. They took the lack of condemnation or rejection from the doctors who were lied to as "evidence" that such doctors would perform sex-selective abortions on request.
Some women in the UK may seek sex-selective abortions because they fear violence or abuse from their husband or their in-laws, or they fear that a girl-child may be abused or neglected. Making sex-selective abortion illegal will do nothing to help these women: better funding for domestic violence services would be more effective help, yet under the current government, which Fiona Bruce supports, both funding for domestic violence charities and legal aid for victims of domestic violence have been cut. As was revealed recently by the Independent, hundreds of women each year suffer from dowry-related violence from their in-laws, yet no police force records "dowry violence" as a category.
I believe that the only real effect of such legislation becoming law would be restrictions on access to abortion between 12-20 weeks, targeted at women of specific ethnic groups, who would find themselves being required to "prove" to unsympathetic GPs that they were *not* having a sex-selective abortion.
I therefore ask you to oppose this.
And I'm happy to say that he said that he would indeed consider voting against.
Fear of being brutally abused by your in-laws because you gave birth to a girl: fear that your potential daughter will be abused and neglected by her father's family.