This is interesting, but -- apart from disagreeing in principle... I can't imagine a practical way to measure and regulate on these grounds. It involves parents and family histories and abstract ideas and economic forecasts, and
things still in the womb. In the abstract, it might seem tempting to say ick, sex selection for babies is bad. However, I'm doubtful that it would be practical to monitor for it on a large scale. There are so many variables that go into the birth/abortion question. When is the decision being made, and do we even have a reliable prediction about the actual infant in question
? Beyond that (and regardless)... Many of the factors that go into this choice are not observable in the clinic or hospital. They could take weeks or months to discover. Even if there were a fast track: I doubt we have the means to establish what they all are for each case, and to weigh the decision in view of so many competing issues that do affect what parents or society would do if there were a birth.
First, there's the sex prediction business. I'm not really clear on just how well we can judge sex -- including how many less reported conditions, conditions that have often been masked as simply male or female -- before the abortion decision is made. Kessler
has reported a history of surgeries by doctors after
birth to 'reinforce' whichever
sex (usually binary) each individual doctor believed the baby could best pass
as. Now, I'm not sure if medicine has somehow found a more precise empirical basis to fix upon sex earlier since then... It makes me very skeptical, though.
Yet for many people, it's enough to say that we can guess sometimes, or many times. Or perhaps the idea would be only to punish people for aborting based on a guess about sex -- even if those guesses are not
always technically accurate. Then it would be an ethical question about the parent's decision style, more than a question about any actual being to be protected. I don't think this is exactly a new point in the abortion debate. It's either a chance for a baby to be created/born (as you prefer) or not.
However, here the anti-abortion camp has -- I must say, cleverly -- rephrased the problem as "No, that's not all: What if it's a chance for a girl
or not." It sounds like someone was betting that a female life (or prior ingredients for that female life) will be more
protected. From an anti-abortion view, this works, if one assumes: 'There already is something we call life there, now deal with it.' I am more of the opinion that we can't reasonably force other people to leverage every potential building block of the universe, every possible project biological or otherwise, at great pain and risk. I'd say, first, it would be preferable to more evenly distribute opportunities across the people who are out of the womb (and btw: then more of them would probably not have abortions). However, to go on playing this game... I don't think it's practical to monitor for this form of discrimination as a national-clinical regime would require:
I'm reading that Franks, who authored the House bill of the moment, claimed it was necessary due to a mix of cultural and racial distinctions.
Franks cited reports of a tendency to favor sons among specific Asian communities in the US, and also claimed that there is widespread abortion among Blacks. There may well be a real problem there, but I tend to agree with certain Asians (erm, Huff post wasn't very specific on that) who responded that we need to deal with the cultural stereotypes and socioeconomic structures that can make male babies seem preferable. I happen to believe those issues are not wholly limited to Asian immigrant communities. But perhaps there is room to debate the location and nature of the actual problem.
Even if the problem were largely isolated to particular urban (?) areas with particular immigrant communities, are we in a position to start a Civil Rights protest-era style, focused policing of those areas (as with school desegregation, but dealing with family and hospital life instead) -- as opposed to a blanket Affirmative Action-style monitoring of all abortions? I don't think a blanket program would have the means to establish how the parental decision was actually made. It would take quite a background check for every case, to even come close. If it were a regular academic interview project, it could easily take some weeks. Even the courts often give respondents a month to get back to them. Actually, I doubt even a very fast and focused program would have the resources to be much good at this. It might be a great job for some linguists and ethnographers, those who don't have ethical qualms about digging into family lives rather intrusively. Still I doubt we would be able to find and recruit, or be willing to pay on public funds, enough people with the skills to judge.