#MeToo in the womb
Wendy Francis on why sex selected abortions could rise in Queensland
Queensland Parliament this week is debating an abortion bill that would allow a woman to terminate her healthy foetus, right up to the time of birth, when two doctors have “considered” the woman’s “current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.”
At the same time, Professor of Economics at the University of Essex, Sonia Bhalotra wrote a shocking article this month, exposing the horror of the link between world gold prices and the rate of female infanticide and sex selection abortion of girls in India.
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When world gold prices go up, fewer girl babies in India survive their first month of life, and there is a significant correlated improvement in the survival of boys. Professor Bhalotra’s conclusion is that when gold prices rise, so does the cost of raising girls and there is more likelihood for them to be neglected or aborted.
“Systematic discrimination against females starts in the womb” – LaTrobe University study
Recent government figures from India’s Census Office suggest that only 900 girls were born for every 1,000 boys. The Indian government estimates that two million girls go “missing” from its population each year due to sex selective abortion and other forms of discrimination that lead to premature death.
The illegal dowry system is one of the main contributing factors in India’s entrenched preference for males, with large amounts of cash, goods or property being handed over when daughters marry.
Here in Australia the tradition of dowry has never existed, and yet, very troublingly, sex-selection abortion is a growing problem. The headline of a recent article in The Age read “The ‘missing girls’ never born in Victoria”. The article was based on research from Melbourne’s La Trobe University which comprised a study of more than one million births in that state. Their conclusion was that some parents could be engaged in the ultimate act of gender bias – aborting unborn female babies simply because they are female. Researchers were quoted as saying that their studied indicates that “systematic discrimination against females starts in the womb”.
It is normally expected that for every 100 girls born, about 105 boys will be brought into the world. Within some key migrant communities in Australia (such as mothers of Indian or Chinese origin), sons are being born at rates of 122 and 125 for every 100 daughters in later pregnancies.
Surely this is an ultimate #MeToo moment.
It’s impossible to understand then, that the Queensland Government refuse to include any restrictions, even regarding sex-selection, in their Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 which will be voted on during October. This bill, which Jackie Trad MP has said is the reason why she entered parliament, will no doubt exacerbate the rising problem.
Until a pregnancy reaches 22 weeks, there will be no questions asked as to why a young woman is feeling the need to abort. After 22 weeks, abortion is still permissible for social reasons, which no doubt includes a desire for a certain gender.
If you believe that discrimination against women is wrong, and that there needs to be a change to the value people place on sons and on daughters, please contact Queensland Members of Parliament and ask them to vote against this bill.
Wendy Francis is director of Australian Christian Lobby Queensland