The Case for Sex-Selection Abortion Bans: Part 2

Editor’s Note: See Part 1 here.

Lately, the pro-abortion lobby has had to engage in very aggressive politics on the legislative front. Infamous abortionist Kermit Gosnell did not help their cause, nor did opposing various states who were trying to pass policies that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Kermit Gosnell made the pro-abortion movement look dirty and dangerous while opposing bans on abortions at the 20 week gestation mark made it look extreme. Currently, there is another piece of legislation that is working against them—sex selection abortion bans.

At present, there are eight states that prohibit the practice of abortion for sex-selection purposes. Illinois and Pennsylvania were the first to pass such bans. However, over the last couple of years, six more states have followed suit. What do these modern bans look like? Americans United for Life gives model legislation, the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, on this very topic in their Defending Life 2014. The Act actually goes even further than just banning abortion on the basis of sex. It also bans abortions on the basis of genetic abnormality or Down syndrome. However, for conciseness this article will only focus on the topic of sex-selection.

As has been mentioned in past articles, one must look at what Pope Saint John Paul II wrote about legislative incrementalism in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. In brief, the principle states the following: 1) that an evil law must already exist, 2) that the proposed legislation must limit the harm of the existing evil law, and 3) the proposed legislation must lessen the evil law’s negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality (see no. 73).

March-21As many already understand, both the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions not only legalized abortion, but legalized abortion on demand for any reason. When those companion cases were decided, it literally abolished any prohibition on abortion, thereby allowing abortion to take place even for reason of gender selection. Simply put, if a mother wants a boy and she is pregnant with a girl then, under current law, she is able to abort her child. In their Defending Life 2014, Americans United for Life’s model legislation seeks to directly limit this ability. It proposes the following: “No person may intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with the knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely on the account of the sex of the unborn child” (p. 273). It is obvious that this bill seeks to stop abortions on the basis of gender. But a question arises—how is this ban enforced? Fortunately, it provides two means of punishment. The first is a criminal penalty which the model legislation allows for the appropriate state fine, imprisonment, or both (p. 274). Secondly, it also provides for a civil penalty (ibid). Here, within this section, the penalties can include loss of medical license and/or being sued for reckless violation of the act. It is clear that the bill provides ample means to limit the harm of the evil perpetrated by both the Roe and Doe decisions.

But does this bill have the capacity to sway public opinion and morality? It would appear so. A poll that was conducted in 2012 has indicated that a super-majority of Americans support sex-selection bans. Since it is well known that sex selection abortions do take place within China, opponents of this legislation are trying to cry “racism” since they claim it is a form of cultural bias toward the American Asian community. However, it would appear that many are just not swayed by this shallow argument. But why cry racism? It would seem that the pro-abortion lobby is practicing deflection since it shows an obvious contradiction within their own public relations campaign; they advocate that abortion is “pro-woman”, yet advocate for the intentional destruction of unborn females. Ultimately, Americans are just not comfortable with the “abortion for any reason” mentality. For many it is an issue of justice; that is sex selection abortion just seems to be another form of sexism that ought to be abolished since it is not giving the unborn female what is due to her, namely her human dignity regardless of what cultural or ethnic context she will be born into.

In his book The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II, the late Avery Cardinal Dulles explains that “Women habitually suffer from the aggressiveness of men, which is common because of the effects of sin” (p. 148). Gendercide is pushed by the notion that it is more valuable to have a son rather than a daughter. Somehow a male has more worth than a female. This is the epitome of male aggression. It is the contention of this article that this form of sinfulness has less of an impact when sex-selection abortion bans are passed. Both genders are of equal dignity and to merely choose because of the faulty belief that a son is better than a daughter is contrary to the common good.

Ephesians 5:21 states, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ”; this belief that men and women are equal fits squarely into the idea of Pope Saint John Paul II’s idea of the new feminism. As he states in Evangelium Vitae, “A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change” (see no. 99). A true notion of feminism teaches society that women are particularly special since it is they who have the most intimate of human relationships—pregnancy and motherhood. Because of sin, unreasonable male domination has led to destruction.

The new “Pax Romana” that Planned Parenthood and their allies try to promote is profoundly deficient. It truly does not recognize the child as a gift from God. The value of the child does not rest on these other considerations, such as gender, as Pope Saint John Paul II correctly posits. Legislation that prohibits abortion on the basis of the gender of the unborn child helps society realize the true meaning of the gift of the unborn child as a person made in the image and likeness of God.

Joe Kral has been involved in the pro-life movement since he has been in college.  His MA in Theology was completed at the University of St. Thomas where he specialized in bioethics.  From 1996-2003 he was the Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life.  During that time he was also a lobbyist for the Department of Medical Ethics at National Right to Life.  From 2004-2007 he consulted the Texas Catholic Conference on pro-life legislative initiatives.   In 2006 he was awarded the “Bishop’s Pro-Life Award for Civic Action” from the Respect Life Ministry in the Diocese of Dallas.  He currently serves as a voluntary legislative advisor to Texas Alliance for Life, is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, taught as an adjunct professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, teaches as a Forward Toward Christian Ministry instructor for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is doing doctoral studies at Harrison Middleton University where he is specializing in the ethical and legal theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been married to his wife, Melissa, since 2004 and they have 2 children together. They attend St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Sugar Land.
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