This Thursday, May 9th will once again see tens of thousands of people from across the country gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to participate in the 2013 ‘National March for Life’, an annual event sponsored by a coalition of Pro-Life organizations. This year’s theme is unique in that it is being expressed in feminist language: “End Female Gendercide: ‘It’s a girl!’ should not be a death sentence.”
In some countries, abortion is being used to conduct a war on baby girls. Sadly Canada is not immune from this trend. Once thought to be a problem only in faraway lands, the Canadian Medical Association revealed in 2011 that this barbaric practice is happening in Canada, with sex-selective abortion being utilized to target baby girls in the womb. This is the ultimate form of sexist, anti-woman discrimination.
High and rising sex ratios favoring males may lead one to ask what causes parents to prefer sons over daughters?
One strand of argument emphasizes socioeconomic and institutional factors. Absent couples’ ability to save or to rely on national pensions, the poor count heavily on children for old-age support, a task that under patriarchal norms falls on sons. In India, high and rising dowry payments are argued to place families with daughters at a disadvantage, and it has also been argued that families depend on males for physical and financial support.
Yet in both India and China, countries where the practice of gendercide is endemic, sex ratios are highest in the richest areas, and for India a strong education gradient is evident, with better-educated parents favoring sons more extensively. These observations cast doubt on sex selection being the result of economic necessity alone. Clearly the economic argument does not sufficiently explain the phenomena of parents choosing sons over daughters. It certainly doesn’t apply in Canada with its universal pensions programs and extensive network of Federal and Provincial social programs. Something other than economics is obviously fueling the practice of gendercidal abortions.
Records detailing the reason for a woman choosing an abortion are not collected in Canada, so there are no available data on the number of sex-selective abortions from among the 93,755 induced abortions performed here in 2009 - the last year national data is available. Yet there is a growing belief that gender is indeed being used as a determining factor for a rising number of abortions. So what is fueling the preference for boys over girls in Canada if not a discriminatory attitude that favors male children over females?
This position, rife though it is with the contradiction that discriminates against women, seems unlikely to change despite the fact that when asked if they could have only one child, 47% of North American expresses a preference to have a boy while only 27% said they would want a girl, numbers which haven’t changed in over 60 years of Gallop polling results.
You would think that this form of gender discrimination would alarm Canadian feminist organizations, but this has not been the case. Canadian women’s groups, rather than accepting this trend as a real and present threat to their gender, have chosen instead to prioritize a woman’s right to obtain an abortion for any reason, even if such a right now privileges the birth of male children over females.
Thankfully Pro-Life groups see the issue differently. Thursday they will march for women of all ages – from conception through to death – to be protected from death based solely upon their gender, even if organizations putatively created to protect their rights have failed to come to their defense.