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Essence of the Argument

April 12, 2008

My attempt to understand the argument against female feticide.

1) An act of discrimination against any group of people is wrong.
2) Female feticide is an act of discrimination against women.
3) Therefore, female feticide/infanticide is wrong.

As per this argument, it seems that abortion per se is not the issue, it is sex-selective abortion that is unacceptable. That is, it is wrong to abort a fetus based on its gender because doing so becomes an act of gender discrimination.

Those concerned with the discrimination against women in this society will be aghast at the practice of female feticide: It is the woman category that is being discriminated against. The practice of killing female fetus is just one of the many discriminatory practices against women in their daily lives, they would argue. Women should not be discriminated against. Therefore, female-fetus should not be discriminated against and should not be killed because of its gender.

Now, the same argument can be made about other social categories too: race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical/mental disability, etc.

For example, take a hypothetical case in which it is possible for an instrument to predict the color of the child, whether it will be fair-skinned or dark-skinned. Now, if the test showed that a child in a certain case would be dark-skinned, and the expecting parents did not want a dark-skinned child because the society in which they lived discriminated against dark-skinned people, and – based on the test’s result generally believed to be reliable – they chose to abort the fetus, then this act of killing the fetus because of its skin color is an act of discrimination.

Or, if another hypothetical test revealed that the child would have a physical disability – let’s assume that the test predicts the child to be deaf, dumb or blind or some combination of these – and that the parents believed that society discriminated against physically challenged people, that their physically disabled child would have to suffer in this world, and that they too would have to suffer at his or her suffering, and if they chose to abort the fetus because of its perceived physical disability, then this selective abortion based on the physical (dis)ability of the child is an act of discrimination.

The general nature of the argument in the above cases seems to be that aborting a fetus is okay, but killing it on grounds of the category (for example, gender, skin-color, physical disability, sexual orientation) to which it belongs to is not okay, for abortion in that case then implies discrimination against a particular category.

So, the higher charge seems to be not the abortion per se but the (discriminatory) basis on which the fetus is being aborted.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2008 10:15 am



  1. » Essence of the Argument

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