When Abortion Collides with Totalitarianism

When Abortion Collides with Totalitarianism

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
April 16, 2009

The vast nation of China remains under the control of one of the few surviving Communist regimes on the planet.  Over the last two decades, that regime has redefined Communist economic theory, allowing private capital and a consumer market to emerge alongside state control and ownership.  Nevertheless, the totalitarian nature of the regime reaches even into the most intimate dimensions of life.  The most insidious example of this totalitarian impulse is China’s infamous “one child only” policy.

The policy limits most Chinese couples to only one child.  Reports of forced abortions and sterilizations abound.  Couples in rural areas with a girl as their only child may apply for permission for a second child, in hopes of a boy.

The preference for boys is overwhelming in the Chinese culture, and especially in rural areas.  The urgent desire for sons has led to two horrifying developments — the abortion of girls and the abduction of boys.  The abortion of baby girls is now a well-established fact.  The abduction of boys in China is less known in the West, but it is now attracting attention.  As The New York Times reported April 4, 2009, “Although some are sold to buyers in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, most of the boys are purchased domestically by families desperate for a male heir, parents of abducted children and some law enforcement officials who have investigated the matter say.”

The mentality behind the preference for boys is reflected in this comment made to the paper by a man who paid $3,500 for an abducted 5-year-old boy:  “A girl is just not as good as a son. . . .  It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t have a son, you are not as good as other people who have one.” The abduction of boys, usually very young, is now “a thriving business,” according to the Times.

A clearer picture of the practice of aborting girl babies is also now available, thanks to the British Medical Journal.  The picture is nothing less than horrifying.  The arrival of ultrasound technology has made the identification of fetal gender a deadly reality for unborn baby girls.  They are aborted by the millions.

The demographics are reported in stark terms:

In 2005 males under the age of 20 exceeded femalesby more than 32 million in China, and more than 1.1 millionexcess births of boys occurred. China will see very high andsteadily worsening sex ratios in the reproductive age groupover the next two decades.

In other words, the problem of the gender imbalance has now reached the point that there is, practically speaking, no way to do anything about the present generation.  Millions of Chinese young men will have no opportunity to marry.  The sociological impact is beyond imagination.

The British study points to a phenomenon known as the “at least one son practice.”  Many Chinese couples will do just about whatever it takes to have a son.  If their first child is a girl and the couple receives permission for a second child, the report makes clear that the abortion of a baby girl at that point is exceedingly likely.

Consider this:

[T]he steady rise in sex ratios across the birth cohortssince 1986 mirrors the increasing availability of ultrasonographyover that period. The first ultrasound machines were used inthe early 1980s; they reached county hospitals by the late 1980sand then rural townships by the mid-1990s. Since then,ultrasonography has been very cheap and available even to therural poor. Termination of pregnancy is also very available,in line with the one child policy.

As William Saletan of Slate.com explains, “It’s a terrible convergence of ancient prejudice with modern totalitarianism. Girls are culturally and economically devalued; the government uses powerful financial levers to prevent you from having another child; therefore, to make sure you can have a boy, you abort the girl you’re carrying.”

Though sex-selection abortions are officially illegal in China, the totalitarian regime has made abortion a centerpiece of its “one child only” policy.  Ultrasound machines and abortion clinics are available virtually everywhere in China — and both are put to deadly use.

Here we see abortion and totalitarianism hand in hand, resulting in the deaths of millions of baby girls and the abduction of at least thousands of young boys.  When human life is devalued and abortion is state policy, the Culture of Death is institutionalized.  When the “one child policy” and an ancient and ingrained preference for boys are combined, the womb becomes a deadly place to be a girl.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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