Sex-selective abortion. Why it should be prohibited

Essay 2015 17 Pages

Health - Public Health






Arguments on Sex-Selective Abortion




The paper will talk about the sex selective abortion and its negative impact on public health. The paper will also critically justify the statement “sex- selective abortion should be prohibited” through different arguments in the perspective of ethical and legal issue of health and social care.

Donaldson and Scally (2009, p.313) stated that “Abortion is defined as the emptying practice of a pregnant uterus up to the twenty four weeks of pregnancy”. However, unprompted abortion normally is called miscarriage. Abortion refers to the abolition of a foetus or embryo from uterus just before stage of viability. According to survival statistics, foetus is normally visible within 23 to 24 weeks (Grimes and Stuart, 2010).

Abrejo, Shaikh and Rizvi (2009) defined sex selective abortion is the practice of prenatal discrimination, in which a foetus is aborted just after identifying of its sex. This practice is promoting sex inequality in the society. Moreover, Sex-selective abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy based on the expected sex of unborn baby. In general, female foetus is the main victim of sex selective abortion in many countries in the world particularly in Southeast Europe, India, Pakistan, People's Republic of China (Goodkind, 1999).

In addition, ethically sex-selective abortion is the illegal and immoral sign of human activities. This action are so harmful for the next generation as high sex ratio imbalance in the community due to only abort of female foetus what ought to be banned under legal law (Cannold, 1994). Though, some countries for instances: United kingdom, Belgium have only limited access of sex selection only for physical status of foetus for instances: physical and mental disability, while Canada, the royal commission of new reproductive technologies claimed that sex selective abortion is an offensive and criminalised under criminal act (Dickens et al., 2005).

Miller (2001) stated that sex selective abortion means abortion of female foetus what is performed mostly in some parts of Asia, particularly in India, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan and some of Canadian, British and American immigrants.

In United Kingdom, the rate of abortion was increased after legalisation of abortion in 1967. In 2007, the termination of pregnancy rate was about 22%. But, about 60% what was highest abortion rate among young and older women though about 32% among over 40 years’ old women (Donaldson and Scally, 2009).


Sex selective abortion is unethical and illegal activities of human being due to advancement of technology. It has great negative impact on public health. Due to abort of female foetus sex ratio is going to high and huge number of men will not have any partner and people will act as broken family and people what would be vicious for the society (Marquis, 2001).

The high prevalence of sex-selective abortion is available in China and India, while sex selective abortion still available some other countries in the world. According to medical research, more than 10 million female foetus have been aborted due to sex selective abortion in the last twenty years in India and around 500 000 girls lost each year due to prenatal selection and sex selective abortion (Ahmad, 2010). In India, according to national census data in 2001, sex ratio was 107.8 males per 100 females what was higher than 1991 when it was 105.8 but some part of India sex ratio was significantly higher. For examples: 126.1 in Punjab and 122.0 in Haryana and 113.9 in Gujarat. Family members balance, son preference theory and cultural and social context in patriarchy society what were the key factors of sex-selective abortion (Arnold, Kishor and Roy, 2002).

In China, sex ratio is quite imbalance due to sex-selective abortion. The average sex ratios were between 103 and 107 among 15 to 19 years age group but much higher among 1-4 years age group children what were 126 in rural areas. In addition, sex ratio was over 130 in six provinces in China and nine provinces had sex ratio more than 160 in rural China what were too high. So, excess numbers of male particularly in all part in China. Consequently, those young people could not have any partners, no wives and they would be isolated from their normal life what could initiate large expansion of sex business and instigate bullying and trafficking. In China and India, recently sex industry has been expanded and recruited huge number of sex workers in china (Zhu, Lu and Hesketh, 2009).

Porter (1994) reported that the rate of abortion about 92 to 96% within the first trimester. Roughly 38 million abortions occurred annually from Latin America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and pacific region where more than half abortions performed illegally Sex-selective abortion tends to imbalance of sex ratio in the society. For the reasons, birth rate of boy will be high; therefore mortality rate would also be higher rather than girl as boy is hereditarily fragile (Kraemer, 2000). Son preference is the main cause of sex selective abortion, though this act leads unpredictable consequences in the society. Basically, East Asia through South Asia to the Middle East and North African countries, son preference is the cultural and traditional norm. Bumgarner (2007) claimed that sons are highly expected rather than girl because of higher earing capacity; continue family line and sign of inheritance, while girls are considered as burden of family as well as in economy because of dowry system and after marriage they traditionally shift to husband’s family. An old Indian proverb is known as “Grooming a girl is like watering a neighbour’s garden”. This spiteful declaration introduced dowry system in the son preference society. For all these points family and society are not willing to get girl. So, they always abort female foetus. Consequently, lots of girls are missing every time from the world what will bring long term impact in the society. Particularly, there are maximum numbers of females disappeared in Indian subcontinent: mostly in Pakistan (about 11%), India (approximately 9.4%), and Bangladesh (almost 8.9% of all disappeared females) due to only sex selective abortion (Hesketh and Xing, 2006).

Lobo and Genuis (2014) reported that trisomy 21 knowing as Down syndrome (DS), learning disability, what is the most common screened condition and prenatal detection in Europe and North America. Lobo and Genuis (2014) also purported that in 2009 about 92% prenatal diagnosed pregnancies were terminated, whereas only 2% due to miscarriage and rest 6% in live birth in United Kingdom. While in North America, 90% pregnancies in Canada and 84 to 91% pregnancy were terminated in United States.


Perspective of medical ethics, abortion and sex- selective abortion both performances are quite offensive and awful. In addition, from the viewpoint of ethical and legal issue, abortion means killing someone and what is the central issue of morality (Callahan, 1978)

Particularly, in China and India, are still continuing sex selective abortion as a consequences, sex ratio is much higher what would be irreversible impact on public health and society. Though, sex selective abortion seems to an individual family or parent’s interest based on “son preference theory”. However, such interest is harm for girl, women as well as whole female society. Consequently, prohibition of sex-selective abortion could only eliminate sex-selective abortion from the son preference society (Zilberberg, 2007).

Vogel (2012) stated that in India, the high imbalance of sex ratio at birth has gradually deteriorated just before the prohibition of sex selective in 2003, while sex of foetus detection testing in 1994. Around three and six million sex selection abortion were completed in India in the year of 2000s, while one and four million in the 1990s and up to two million in 1980s. Similarly, huge number of girls is also missing in China due to only sex selective abortion since 1994. So, both cases only one reason is responsible. So it should be banned under legal law protecting female foetus to life.

Sex selective abortion is unethical and immoral so it is quite impossible for justification through various types of ethics and bio-medical principle. There are several arguments of sex selective abortion what is argued below:

Arguments on Sex-Selective Abortion

There are particular rational arguments based on ethical and legal issues in health care which could be supportive banning sex-selective abortion:

Sex selective abortion is denied and it should be prohibited through the discussing arguments ethically in the view points of various biomedical principles.

According to communitarian, community benefit is more preferable than an individual what might restrict the freedom of individual for long term benefits of the society. Though, selecting sex of foetus is the mother’s right, while consideration of the social violence mother’s autonomy could be limited. Sex selective abortion should be prohibited for the benefits of whole community in the world. Sex selective abortion is harm for the society due to create imbalance sex ratio and increase the gender discrimination (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001).

Beauchamp and Childress (2001) defined consequentialism is a theory holding such actions what is right or wrong depends on their good and bad consequences. So sex selective action is not supported by consequentialism as such practice leads very bad impact for the society, so it should be prohibited due to reduce the sex imbalance and female inequalities in the society. In addition, virtue ethics and moral theory is the part of consequentialism. Moreover, virtue ethics is the branch of moral philosophy what can evaluate the harm or bad of any actions. So, on both view of point sex abortion is immoral and unethical and sex selective abortion act as social harm so it should be prohibited.

Moreover, sex selective abortion should be restricted in sense of consequentialism. Sex selective abortion still available in some countries where high sex ratio imbalance, particularly in India and china due to strong son preference theory what is highly motivated aborting female foetus enormously. Consequently, high sex ratio is social harm as number of girls is less rather than males. So, high numbers of males will not get any scope having wives or partners in near future, therefore they will have to rely on sex workers for their biological needs what would be shame for whole nation. For that reasons, sex selective abortion is objectionable for raising such hectic problem (McDougall, 2005).

The principle of beneficence always entails positive act, good outcomes and inhibiting bad engagements what is harmful. Alternatively, beneficence eradicates all bad and harmful activities, and stimulates what is moral and well- beneficial. Overall, beneficence is always looking benefits for the user and community (Athar, 2011). Sex selective abortion is not obliged by beneficence as this practice is involved with harmful activities for instance: the killing of foetus, gender discrimination what leads high sex ration imbalance. As a result, next generation will be sufferer in the society. Savulescu (2001) also stated that sex selective abortion leads sex inequality in the society. Principle of beneficence always conflicts with sex inequality and gender discrimination in the society. So, sex selective abortion should be restricted resolving problem from the society, unless gender discrimination would be increased.

The principle of non-maleficence generally involves to safe the person from any kind of harm. The duty of non-maleficence is to rescue the vulnerable person from the predicted harm committed by others intentionally or unintentionally through their activities. So, sex selective abortion is not permissible based on the principle of non-maleficence. According to the duty of non- maleficence, sex selective abortion should be prohibited for saving the female foetus life and giving opportunity for growing up in the womb until born (Gillon, 1994).

Gostin and Gostin (2009) described that “John Stuart Mill’s theory of liberty” is occasionally restricted the power of autonomy of an individual once an individual’s action is harm for others. Sex-selective abortion obviously harmful action and killing typically female foetus, consequently high sex ratio would be available what could be violent in the society (Jackson, 2000).

Clouser and Gert (1990) stated that morality depends on particular few moral judgements what reply on some parts for instances: moral rules including “don’t kill”, “don’t deceive”, “Keep your promise”, and “Do your duty”; moral ideas including “preventing death” as well as “releasing pain”; what are the key points of moral judgements. For example: sex selective abortion leads to kill innocent mainly female foetus so based on moral theory this practice should be banned.

Rawls (2009) stated that ethical principle of justice is the real virtue of public organisations where the true thoughts are coming up and judgement based on fairness, while wrong is denied even justice denied also the freedom of person what makes wrong for others. However, mothers have reproduction right making decision to abort but abortion is social harm and killing innocent foetus so according to justice sex selective abortion should be prohibited. Baird (1996) also argued that in view of principle of ethical equality and justice, sex selective abortion is quite unethical. Nevertheless, sex of the foetus is identifiable after 10 weeks pregnancy period. Principles of justice and equality always respect human’s life and dignity, though female foetus remains unborn but foetus has right to born in the society. So sex- selective abortion acts as violence in the society. Moreover, Kalfoglou et al. (2013) also claimed that sex-selective abortion is socially unjustified.



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University of Bedfordshire – Health and Social Sciences
abortion sex-selective abortion healthcare ethics




Title: Sex-selective abortion. Why it should be prohibited