Abortion is already a controversial topic in America, and across the world. People debate between pro-life and pro-choice, each with its own pros and cons. Whether it be personal beliefs, religious beliefs, or family values, the public feels very strongly about the side they support. Personally, I am pro-choice. There can be many complex circumstances that can arise in which a woman would have to resort to an abortion. It could be that she was raped and does not want the child, or the mother’s life is in danger with the unborn baby. Thus, abortion should be legal world-wide, however it should be chosen with careful consideration, taking into account other possible options. Proper healthcare and contraceptives/birth control should be readily available to women so that abortion is not used as an option for carelessness.

You may have heard of “race-based” or “sex-based” abortions that are fairly common in some eastern countries like India and China. Many families who live in these countries have a strong gender preference for males, so that the son can carry on the family name, and so that the family does not have to deal with the high expenses that come with the marriage of a daughter. A son may be thought of being able to better able support his family, than can a daughter. With these ideas in mind, couples choose to get abortions if they find out ahead of time that the baby will be a girl. This in my opinion is unethical and immoral. A human is still a human, whether it be a boy or girl.

In some countries, especially in India, there have been many newly wed brides who have either been burned by their in-laws, or they have committed suicide because of the in-laws high demands for dowry. These incidents are known as “dowry deaths”. Dowry is money, goods, or other property that a woman brings to her husband’s house after marriage. Not all families can give dowry to their daughters during her marriage. Thus some new brides are constantly harassed by their in-laws  and/or husband to get more dowry. Some cases can get so out of hand, that the daughter-in-law resorts to extreme measures, or the in-laws torture her or even kill her. The deaths are then either reported as accidents or suicides by the family, but a full police investigation usually reveals that the incident was intentional.

Below is an article posted about a dowry death, in which the author discusses the details that follow after an investigation and more information about these types of occurrences.

Dowry deaths or suicides?

Revathi Ramanan, TNN | Feb 21, 2011, 12.22AM IST

CHENNAI: Recently, 28-year-old R Sushila was admitted to the burns ward of the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital(KMCH) after she tried to immolate herself, When she died a week later with 90% burns, it was recorded as a suicide. However, nurses said she had told them she committed suicide unable to bear the pressure and harrassment from her husband and in-laws for dowry.

In 2010, according to the state crime records bureau only 13 dowry case deaths were recorded in the city while the state commission for women recorded just one but the burns ward at the KMCH tells a completely different story. “In some cases the husband or in-laws burn the woman and bring her to the hospital where death is recorded as an accident or suicide,” says head nurse Sister Amala.

Doctors and nurses in the burns ward say 90% of the victims in the cases they see in a day are women, most of whom have committed suicide because of harassment at home and most have been married for less than five years.

“We get around eight burns cases everyday and of those five are women and they are mostly reported as cases of accidents or suicide. It is only when we talk to the women that we realise these are cases of dowry harassment by the husband and the relatives,” said Dr V Jayaraman, head of the burns ward. A majority of these deaths, nurses say, are recorded as suicides by the husband and his relatives and in some cases by the woman herself.

Given that Tamil Nadu and Chennai have the maximum number of women committing suicide by self-immolation in the country this is not hard to believe, say sources.

Whenever a death of a woman is reported within seven years of marriage and the police find it has not occurred under normal circumstances, an inquiry by an Revenue Divisional Officer is ordered.

“RDO enquiries were introduced as an additional measure apart from police enquiries on the insistence of women’s rights groups who felt the police was discouraging filing of FIRs and not doing a thorough enquiry. If RDOs find something suspicious they can report their findings to the police,” says advocate Sudha Ramalingam. She, however, says an RDO enquiry is not taken seriously and in most cases not done immediately. “In most cases, the RDO never visits the site of crime nor does an investigation. It is usually the clerks or the lower level staff who do the inquiry. This probably explains why the few number of cases which have been reported as dowry deaths,” she adds.

Feminist and activist V Geetha believes dowry has become a preferred public expression for various kinds of private violence against women. “Though women face different kinds of harassment like sexual violence and domestic violence, most prefer to give it the name dowry as it is seen as being socially acceptable,” she says. She says it is necessary to address all problems faced by women rather than just looking at it as an issue of dowry.

Going back to the sex-selection and race-based abortions,  a U.S. congressman has reintroduced a bill that would ban financing of sex-selection and race-based abortions. Ted Franks (Arizona, Republican) brings up this bill because of the fact that there is a high number of abortions done on black babies than those of any other races. Those countries that practice sex-based abortions tend to have uneven male to female ratios. (Note that there is a higher male percentage in India and China) Race-based abortions and sex-selection is also occurring in the U.S., thus with this bill, technology would be banned that aids in the birth of males.

The following is an article that discusses about this matter in further detail.

Congressional Bill Bans Sex-Selection, Race-Based Abortions

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 11/29/11 1:17 PM

A U.S. congressman has reintroduced legislation that would ban sex-selection or race-based abortions. Congressman Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has brought back the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

The measure would prohibit knowingly performing or financing sex-selection or race-based abortions. Franks has said the bill is needed because abortions on black babies are done at much higher rates than abortions on babies of other races.

“[T]he Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or “PRENDA,” … restricts sex-selection abortion and race-selection abortion, and the coercion of a woman to obtain either. The woman seeking an abortion is exempted from prosecution, while abortion providers are held to account,” wrote Franks in a letter to colleagues on Monday.

“Sex-selection abortion is happening in the United States. A study published in the April 2008 Journal of the National Academy of Sciences shows through U.S. Census data that certain segments of the U.S. population – particularly those coming from countries that practice sex-selection abortion – have unnaturally skewed sex-ratios at birth caused by sex-selection ‘most likely at the prenatal stages,’” Franks added.

Franks also noted that abortion centers are disproportionately placed in African-American communities and he pointed out that Planned Parenthood has come under fire for accepting donations from people claiming to want the abortion business to target blacks.

“Following the unearthing of the nation-wide race-targeted abortion donations, civil rights activists and African-American pastors from across the country protested government acquiescence in race-targeted abortion and the government funding of clinics that they believe are purposefully placed in the inner city and targeted to minority women,” he said.

A few years ago, a national study showed the possibility that the practice of sex-selection abortions has made its way from Asia to the United States. Researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of the National Academy of Sciences say their analysis of the 2000 Census shows the odds prematurely increasing for Asian-American families from China, Korea and India to have a boy if they already have a girl child.

The data “suggest that in a sub-population with a traditional son preference, the technologies are being used to generate male births when preceding births are female,” they wrote in the paper.

Meanwhile, a 2006 poll showed a majority of Americans would likely support the bill. A 2006 Zogby International poll shows that 86% of the American public desires a law to ban sex selection abortion. The poll surveyed a whopping 30,117 respondents in 48 states.

Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, said today he supports the bill.

“While we should strive to end abortion in all circumstances, this legislation is an important and welcome step,” he said. “Every human life is sacred, but to specifically target the unborn based on race or gender for destruction magnifies the inherit evil of abortion, and fosters an even greater prejudice toward life itself.”

The Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, worked with Franks’ staff on a previous version of the measure.

“No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless, least of all because a child isn’t of the preferred sex or race,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven Aden told LifeNews.com. “There is nothing constitutionally protected or medically necessary about an abortion that takes place because a child is not the preferred sex or race. And there is nothing in the law or the Constitution that prohibits America from joining other civilized nations in prohibiting such barbaric procedures,” he said.

“ADF commends Rep. Franks for his leadership in affirming the rule of law’s protection for every American, regardless of race or gender, beginning in the womb,” said Aden in 2009 when it was previously introduced.

The bill will be formally introduced today and Franks’s letter to congressional colleagues lists 18 current cosponsors of the bill, including Representatives Aderholt (R-Ala.), Akin (R-Mo.), Bartlett (R-Md.), Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Burton (R-Ind.), Crawford (R-Ark.), Duncan (R-Tenn.), Forbes (R-Va.), Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Garrett (R-N.J.), Harris (R-Md.), Jones (R-N.C.), King (R-Iowa), Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Lipinski (D-Ill.), Pearce (R-N.M.), Pence (R-Ind.), Schmidt (R-Ohio), Smith (R-Texas) and Westmoreland (R-Ga.).

“A `sex-selection abortion’ is an abortion undertaken for purposes of eliminating an unborn child of an undesired sex. Sex-selection abortion is barbaric, and described by scholars and civil rights advocates as an act of sex-based or gender-based violence, predicated on sex discrimination,” according to the 2009 version of the bill. “By definition, sex-selection abortions do not implicate the health of the mother of the unborn, but instead are elective procedures motivated by sex or gender bias.”

Similarly, “A `race-selection abortion’ is an abortion performed for purposes of eliminating an unborn child because the child or a parent of the child is of an undesired race. Race-selection abortion is barbaric, and described by civil rights advocates as an act of race-based violence, predicated on race discrimination.”

In general, most people would agree that abortions based on just race or sex is just plain wrong. It goes against nature for us to choose who is born into this world, and which life is more worthy than another. In my opinion, I do not support these practices, however, the option for an abortion should be available to all women in case of extreme situations. If this is not so, women who desperately need an abortion will find other, potentially fatal ways to abort her own child. By taking this step, we can change the views of the world on discrimination and promote equality.

 

Sources:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Dowry-deaths-or-suicides/articleshow/7536372.cms?intenttarget=no#.TtxEXJHF0gU.email

http://www.lifenews.com/2011/11/29/congressional-bill-would-ban-sex-selection-race-based-abortion/

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