Though Hvistendahl describes herself as "pro-abortion", her work is gaining attention from many different spheres. For those who favor abortion as a means of empowering women and for those who also favor population control, her findings are raising some very necessary questions. For those who are pro-life, and especially for pro-life feminists, it confirms fears that (politically and eugenically motivated) American-sponsored abortion and population control programs in the third world would backfire, creating social change that actually leads to greater violence and increased oppression of women.
Douthat discusses the implications of her findings in his article. He writes:
The spread of sex-selective abortion is often framed as a simple case of modern science being abused by patriarchal, misogynistic cultures. Patriarchy is certainly part of the story, but as Hvistendahl points out, the reality is more complicated — and more depressing.
Thus far, female empowerment often seems to have led to more sex selection, not less. In many communities, she writes, “women use their increased autonomy to select for sons,” because male offspring bring higher social status. In countries like India, sex selection began in “the urban, well-educated stratum of society,” before spreading down the income ladder.
Moreover, Western governments and philanthropic institutions have their fingerprints all over the story of the world’s missing women.
...A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered.
It’s society at large, she argues, citing evidence that gender-imbalanced countries tend to be violent and unstable. It’s the women in those countries, she adds, pointing out that skewed sex ratios are associated with increased prostitution and sex trafficking.
Read the rest at the New York Times.
Hvistendahl's book has exposed the consequences of the kind of feminism that early American feminists opposed: the kind that says that women must be like men to be equal to them, and must sacrifice the lives of their children as a condition of participation in society.
Hopefully, in light of this, more people will begin to realize that some choices are wrong.
The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
For more on pro-life feminism, visit Feminists for Life of America.