Madam Secretary

Clinton opposes sex-selective abortions

Clinton opposes sex-selective abortions

Hillary Clinton, April 21, 2008 | Joe Raedle/Getty, which describes itself as a news agency that brings “pro-life news to the pro-life community,” has highlighted an important comment that Secretary Clinton made in her recent interview with the New York Times. In discussing women’s rights, she said:

Obviously, there’s work to be done in both India and China, because the infanticide rate of girl babies is still overwhelmingly high, and unfortunately with technology, parents are able to use sonograms to determine the sex of a baby, and to abort girl children simply because they’d rather have a boy. And those are deeply set attitudes. But at the governmental level, there is a great deal of openness and commitment that I am seeing.”

Clinton’s comments on this deplorable practice are commendable, though she left out some nuance when she said parents do it “simply because they’d rather have a boy.” Often, it’s a matter of economics: Boys bring wealth into a family, and girls drain tons of money out. Sons earn more money and financially support their elderly parents in communities where nothing like Social Security exists. Meanwhile, in India, parents must pay enormous, financially crippling dowries when their daughters get married. Absolutely none of this morally justifies sex-selective abortion, but these are issues that must be addressed in order to eradicate this shameful practice.

(Obviously, other factors — such as family and social pressure — are at play, too. Sex-selective abortion in India has been found to occur at higher rates among more educated people, presumably because they’re more likely to be able to afford an ultrasound exam and abortion.)

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images