Recently the Premier of India called for the cessation of aborting unborn girls simply for the reason of their gender, a practice common in his country (full story). Women's organizations and feminist groups have rightly denounced the practice; but is it consistent to hold a pro-choice position on abortion and reject the choice of abortion for the sole reason that the unborn child is female?
The moral conundrum faced by those who want to make choice the primary consideration in abortion is that once morality centers solely around the decision and not on what is actually decided, it becomes impossible to condemn the decision made. Time and time again we hear that, when it comes to abortion, the woman is the only one who has the right to decide whether or not she will give birth. Thus she is free to have an abortion for whatever reason she deems right. Does this logic also not apply to women who choose to have abortions because they they do not want to have female babies?
It is clear that such a practice is sexist and immoral, but, if one is pro-choice, on what grounds is it to be viewed as such? It is easy for those who are pro-life to respond negatively to this practice; for mothers should not be aborting their children unless there is a clear physical threat to the life of the mother. The main issue for those opposed to abortion is not the choice itself, but what choice is made. The pro-choice groups that have condemned the practice of female foeticide are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want to give the mother unrestricted choice in abortion except for reasons of gender.
Life is filled with choices; we all know that. But the choices we make are what count, not having the choice in the first place. Parents do not teach their children that making the choice is important, but making the right choice. No responsible parent says to his or her child, "Little Johnny, you have a choice; you may play in the yard or play in the street." Or, "Molly, you may have a glass of water or strychnine?"
Life may be filled with choices, but when we place choice itself at the center of the moral life, and not the significance of the specific choice made, then all we are left with is a tyrannical self-obsession with what we want and the fulfillment of our whims in which no one else matters. This is lawlessness; and anarchy always leads to tyranny.
Unborn girls in India are experiencing such tyranny; and the only consistent response by those who are pro-choice is silence.