Distressingly, the subjugation of females is alive and well in the year 2007. Through my travels and investigations as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in the 1990s, I became all too aware of the difficulties women face around the world. Despite the United Nations’ many faults, it has been at the forefront of the battle to ban female genital mutilation and obtain equal rights for women throughout the world. The theme of this year’s session of the United Nations Population Fund was “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.”
Recently, the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute released a new study regarding abortion rates in countries that legalized and criminalized the procedure respectively. The study provoked much discussion and debate among pro-life and pro-abortion organizations. Women, both rich and poor, from wealthy nations to impoverished countries, were shown to be subject of poor health care conditions and gender bias when it came to obtaining adequate health care. The two sides managed to agree on one aspect of the study. They both agreed that women, by and large, were subject to immense prejudice and disregard when it came to obtaining adequate prenatal and maternal health care.
One of the most prominent forms of discrimination against girls exists even before they exit their mother’s womb. That is the issue of sex-selection abortion. The notion of sex-selection abortion challenges the liberal concept of abortion as an innate human right. Sex-selection abortion is practiced in countries where cultural norms dictate that a man is more prized than a woman.
This past summer saw the horrific discovery of the remains of dead baby girls in the Indian town of Orissa. These babies had been bagged and tossed in a well behind what was discovered to be an abortion clinic. India has banned the practice of sex-selection abortion for fifteen years; however, as the babies of Orissa show, that has simply pushed the practice underground. Sex-selection abortion is so common in India that General Electric was forced to hold a conference there on the practice. Subsequently, GE requested that any Indian company purchasing one of their ultrasound machines sign a waiver indicating that they will not use it to determine the sex of the child and consequently abort her. China has also followed suit in outlawing the practice.