Of course, sex-selection abortions happen in America, often among immigrant families. Hvistendahl reports that 35 percent of Asian-American pregnancies result in abortion.
San Francisco internist Sunita Puri warns, "The technology moves faster than the discussion, and we have no data on the short- and long-term consequences of what we're doing." Puri is the lead author of a recent article in Social Science & Medicine that looked at the fetal sex selection among Indian immigrants. Authors interviewed 65 immigrant women who had sex-selection abortions in America. Some feared that a daughter would engage in consensual sex and bring shame on the family. Some told of coercion -- from their husbands and mothers-in-law -- to produce a male heir. Many lied to their doctors, saying that they could not afford a baby, when their families did not want them to have another girl.
These immigrant women, the study observed, "are both the assumed beneficiaries of reproductive choice while remaining highly vulnerable to family violence and reproductive coercion."
Puri believes that clinical studies are needed to look at the potential harm that comes with the status quo. Canadian sociologist Sharada Srinivasan has another suggestion. As she told Hvistendahl, at some point feminists have to define sex selection as a human rights abuse. That would be a good start.
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