From reproductive rights to economic equality, women’s empowerment is one of the hottest topics in the media today. Considering the emphasis placed on women’s rights in the media and politics alike, it might be shocking to hear that unborn girls are being discriminated against, even in societies that champion gender equality.
Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based solely on the predictive sex of the fetus. Female feticide, the termination of a pregnancy because the unborn baby is a girl, exists in countries where the birth of sons is favored over the birth of daughters. Female feticide is most prevalent in East Asia and South Asia. However, this practice is not unknown to Western nations, including those which claim to champion women’s rights. Most recently, a bill was presented in Canada to end sex-selective abortion but was defeated. Female feticide is the real war on women, and son preference is a threat to unborn girls worldwide.
Sex-Selective Abortion around the World
Female feticide is most widely practiced in China and India. In 2017, China and India had 115 male births per 100 female births and 111 male births per 100 female births respectively. Both of these sex ratios are significantly higher than the normal male to female ratio, which is approximately 105 male births to 100 female births.
Female feticide is the real war on women, and son preference is a threat to unborn girls worldwide.
The primary reason for sex-selective abortion practices is a son preference. The cultural preference for boys is primarily economic, including the one-child policy in China and the dowry system in India. In China, the one-child policy was instituted to control the rapidly growing population. The cultural pressure of having a son led to abortion and even infanticide of girls. In India, the preference for boys is largely due to the dowry system. Among some families, girls are considered to be a burden. Girls will be married off to another family at a cost, whereas boys are considered to be a blessing because they will remain with the family to take care of and provide for the parents.
Son Preference in the West
In Canada, there’s evidence to suggest that a preference for sons remains among South Asian communities. The research shows that between 1993 and 2014, first-generation Indo-Canadian women gave birth to 142 boys for every 100 girls. Among other immigrant communities, such as certain East Asian communities, the sex ratio is only slightly elevated for the first birth. However, the ratio becomes increasingly skewed for each subsequent birth where all previous children are female.
It seems as though son preference is decreasing; however, it persists to some degree among second-generation mothers. This suggests that assimilation has taken place, which is one of the solutions for stopping this practice. But considering Canada’s dedication to equal rights, perhaps more preventative measures should be taken to reduce son preference in the West and to stop sex-selective abortion.
How Is Sex-Selection Occurring in a Nation That Champions Women’s Rights?
Canada is a nation that’s dedicated to the equality of the sexes. Canada recognizes that sex selection with the use of assisted human reproductive technologies (IVF) is wrong, so why are there no restrictions when it comes to sex-selective abortions?
Even with a law, sex-selective abortion is nearly impossible to regulate when there are no other legal restrictions on abortion and a woman isn’t required by law to give the reason as to why she’s seeking an abortion. Additionally, a law against sex-selective abortion wouldn’t necessarily stop expecting parents from lying about their reason for abortion. Nonetheless, many legal efforts have been put forward in an attempt to end sex-selective abortion.
In a nation dedicated to equality, a law protecting the unborn from gender-based discrimination should be a no-brainer.
The Sex-Selective Abortion Act
The most recent effort to end sex-selective abortion in Canada was Bill C-233: The Sex-Selective Abortion Act. In February 2020, Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall first presented the bill which would have made it illegal for a medical practitioner to perform an abortion knowing that the abortion is sought solely on the predictive sex of the fetus. The bill was defeated on June 2, 2021, by a vote of 248-82. As a result, it remains legal in Canada to have an abortion based on the sex of the baby in the womb. Nearly 70% of the Conservative Caucus voted in favor of Bill C-233, despite openly pro-choice leader Erin O’Toole voting against it.
In a Western democracy that’s dedicated to the equality, advancement, and empowerment of women, it may seem as though a law designed to protect the unborn from gender-based discrimination would be a no-brainer. However, the result of the vote came as no shock to Wagantall or any other supporters of the bill. The reason this bill didn’t stand a chance was because of Canada’s dedication to reproductive rights and to multiculturalism, and the political correctness that consumes the conversation.
Reproductive Rights in Canada
Since 1988, abortion in Canada has been legal at any stage of a women’s pregnancy. This means that a woman has the option of abortion under any circumstances, including for the reasons of sex selection. In Canada, abortion is deemed a “women’s right to choose.” Bodily autonomy is valued above all else, and Canadian’s believe that lawmakers and politicians have no business interfering with women’s decisions for their bodies. But what happens when reproductive rights interfere with gender equality rights and sex-based discrimination laws? In the case of sex-selective abortion, a women’s right to an abortion is trumping a girl’s right to life. Since women’s “right to choose” is not going away anytime soon, the practice of sex-selective abortion will continue.
In the case of sex-selective abortion, a women’s right to an abortion is trumping a girl’s right to life.
Multiculturalism in Canada
Canada is also a multiculturalist nation, meaning it has deep-rooted respect and appreciation for ethnic and cultural diversity. Canadian multiculturalism runs into problems when it’s more loyal to its celebration of diversity than it is loyal to Canadian values, rights, and freedoms. In the name of political correctness, Canadians will dance around certain topics involving culture, religion, and ethnicity because they’re afraid of being called a racist or a xenophobe, even if the practices they’re criticizing are inherently anti-Canadian.
Even though female feticide is inherently anti-Canadian, it’s considered taboo to call out an immigrant community for this practice. Since Canada is dedicated to supporting cultural norms from distinct ethnic groups and promoting diversity, it’s not surprising that the dedication to multiculturalism has trumped the rights of the unborn.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a self-proclaimed feminist and champion of women’s rights and equality. Trudeau is famous for appointing 50% women to his cabinet “because it’s 2015.” The Prime Minister voted against and criticized the bill, claiming that the bill is “completely unacceptable” and that his government will support, protect, and defend a woman's right to choose. Using this kind of avoidant language, Prime Minister Trudeau escapes the root of the issue and demonstrates that his support for women and girls doesn’t extend to those unborn.
Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef takes a similar stance to that of the Prime Minister. Monsef argues that women alone control their bodies and their healthcare choices, criticizing the bill for being a Trojan horse aiming to restrict the reproductive rights of women. In a statement, Monsef calls on Conservative leader Erin O'Toole to vote against the bill and ask his caucus to do the same. In her statement, Monsef uses language such as “anti-choice,” “basic human rights,” and “trust women,” yet fails to address the purpose of the bill which is to protect the rights of unborn girls. If sex-selective abortion is occurring in Canada, specifically the sex-selective practice that discriminates against girls, you would think that Canadian politicians who champion gender equality and women’s rights would make it a priority to ensure that no girl is aborted for being a girl.
Women’s monopoly on “choice” is another example of political correctness devaluing truth. Women don’t have a monopoly on choice, and this language is used to purposely deter the conversation from the core of the issue: the right to life for unborn girls.
Allowing sex-selective abortion to persist in the West is valuing a women’s right to choose over a girl’s right to life. Gender-based discriminatory practices have no place in Canada. When political correctness is favored over speaking the truth, we risk facing serious consequences. In the case of sex-selective abortion, the consequences are a matter of life or death.
We want to know what you think about Evie! Take the official Evie reader survey.