ISSUES - Sex-selective Abortion


The three most dangerous words in the world today are "It’s a girl." Sex-selective abortion considers the lives of the youngest of females to be without worth or value. Sex-selective abortion is gender based violence against the most defenseless of girls. The practice of targeting girls for death—gendercide or femicide—and killing them through sex-selective abortion and infanticide has led to 160 million ‘missing girls’ in Asia and a growing disproportionate ratio of girls to boys in affected countries.

Cultural preferences for boys and technology have come together to make the womb the most dangerous place for girls on earth, particularly in China and India. Ultrasound and sex-determination testing identify the girl in the womb and preferences for first-born sons render baby girls unwanted, marked for death simply because they are female. The one-child population control policy in China and the dowry system in India exacerbate the violence and discrimination against girls.

While sex-selective abortion occurs most frequently in Asian countries, it was exported from the United States as a means of population control. Mara Hvistendahl explains in her ground breaking book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, that the practice of sex selective abortion was proposed in 1969 by the Population Council as a relatively "ethical" means to control population:

"By August 1969, when the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Population Council convened another workshop on population control, sex selection had become a pet scheme....Sex selection, moreover, had the added advantage of reducing the number of potential mothers....if a reliable sex determination technology could be made available to a mass market,'' there was "rough consensus'' that sex selection abortion "would be an effective, uncontroversial and ethical way of reducing the global population.''

Matthew J. Connelly, Ph.D., Professor, Columbia University, author of Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population, testified before a U.S. House hearing that Planned Parenthood's head of research, Steven Polgar, promoted the idea of sex selective abortion urging biologists to develop a technique for pre-natal sex determination.

The scheme 'worked'. Today there are fewer girls-fewer future mothers-where sex-selective abortion was promoted. However, as the first generation affected by sex selection matures into adults, there are dire consequences as tens of millions of men cannot find wives leading to increased sex trafficking and forced bride selling; populations are aging with few daughters and daughters-in-law to care for elderly family members and there are fewer workers resulting in unprecedented challenges for governments.

PNCI believes that the life of the girl child must be valued right from the start-in the womb-if her life is to be respected and protected throughout the life cycle. PNCI seeks to raise awareness of the practice of sex-selective abortion and supports legislation that bans this cruel, violent and destructive act of discrimination. PNCI opposes all cultural practices which harm and devalue the life of the girl child.


All Girls Allowed 

Congressional Hearing: India's Missing Girls

Invisible Girl Project

Report: Power, Voice and Rights A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

Protect Our Girls

Women's Rights Without Frontiers

The war on baby girls: Gendercide