The preference for males among some Asian-American immigrants has resulted in significant deviations in the proportion of baby boys to baby girls, according to research conducted by professors Lena Edlund and Douglas Almond of Columbia University. More boys than girls are born in the United States, by a ratio of 1.05 to 1. Studying 2000 census data, the pair of economists discovered that among American families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the likelihood of having a boy increased to 1.17 to 1 if the first child was a girl. The ratio for a third child was 1.51 to 1 in favor of boys if the first two children were girls. Demographers say the lopsided ratios reflect the use of sex-selection techniques such as in vitro fertilization, sperm sorting and abortion.
Joyce Moy, executive director of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute of the City University of New York, says some family values prevalent in China, Korea and India have seeped into American culture among even young immigrants, despite the fact that historic reasons for the male preference are less relevant in the U.S.
One Chinese-American mother who was interviewed for the story claims it’s a couple’s parents who apply the most pressure to bear male offspring. That would explain why even Asian-Americans born and raised in the U.S. might exhibit a strong preference for boy babies. Some commenters at the Times verified that that’s the case.
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of the Fertility Institutes, a clinic that offers sex-selection procedures (though not abortion) said, “Culturally, there are a lot of strange things that go on in the world. Whether we agree with it, it’s not harming anyone.” I suppose in a vacuum sex-selection procedures do not harm anyone, unless you count the massive gender imbalance and resulting social unrest in places like China. The devaluation of girls and woman is harmful, but misogyny is the cause; sex-selection procedures are the effect. I also disagree with the doctor’s implication that male supremacy is a foreign concept, practiced in “strange” far away places then exported to the U.S. Please. Americans are less accepting of abortion as a means of seeing their sex preferences to fruition.
I don’t find it difficult, as a feminist, to reconcile my support for abortion on demand with my disgust towards sex-selective abortion. Anti-choicers like to play gotcha with this issue, though their accusations of pro-choice feminist hypocricy are easily refuted. I don’t wish to see girl babies born into families who won’t cherish them. “Every child a wanted child.” It would be unwise to cut off the supply of sex-selection techniques before the demand has dried up. Destroy sexism and the practice will all but disappear.