Sex-Selective Abortions in China Part A: Ethical Issue & Importance The news article selected for the ethical analysis is based on the ‘One Child Policy of China’; many ethical issues arise from this article and topic in general. The ethical issue that has been chosen for analysis is whether or not sex-selective abortions are ethical for families to have a desired sex of a child in China. Although the ethical issues behind abortion in general is very large, this analysis will focus on the issues solely behind sex selective abortions in China.
Sex selective abortion is the act of terminating a pregnancy due to an unwanted sex of the foetus, as determined by the parents [ (Goodkind, 1999) ]. The importance behind this issue is the impact it is having on the Chinese population demographics, and the discrimination between the sexes of unborn babies. In 2010 for every 100 females born, 118 males were born causing a large imbalance of the sex ratio in China [ (Ravi, 2011) ]. Part B: Relevant Facts The most obvious fact of the issue is that preference is given to male babies, and unborn female babies are more likely to be aborted.
Even though sex-selective abortions are illegal in China, there are many doctors who still risk losing their license to carry out the practise. There are multiple reasons for the preference of male babies most of which stem from family and cultural values, and the potential economic gain for the country [ (Ravi, 2011) ]. In order for a family bloodline to be passed down to another generation, families seek to have a son in order for the family name to continue on. Men were also perceived to have greater economic opportunities than women [ (Levenstein, 2011) ] thus making male babies more desired then female babies.
Many demographic researchers believe that the ‘One Child Policy’ was the cause for the increase in sex-selective abortions. With this being the case in China the ‘One Child Policy’ puts pressure on families to have a son on the first try to avoid severe penalties for having more than one child [ (Goodkind, 1999) ]. As a result of sex-selective abortions since the 1970’s, in September of 2010 there were approximately 32 million more males then females under the age 20 in China [ (Hvistendahl, 2010) ].
The “missing daughters” is term that’s been used to describe the missing number of females in China due to the One Child Policy. It is estimated that sex-selective abortion accounts for 85% of the 13 million “missing daughters” in China since the start of the One-Child Policy [ (Nie, 2008) ]. One of the contributing factors to an increase in sex-selective abortions is the availability of technology to find out the sex of an unborn child. Some expecting mothers will undergo numerous ultrasounds to determine the sex of an unborn foetus.
Ultrasound tests are exteremely cheap in China; at a public hostpital they will usually cost between 25-30 yaun (3-4USD), however for a more reliable test private clinics do the test for between 50-60 yaun (6-8 USD) [ (Junhong, 2011) ] Part C: Act Utilitarianism Analysis Act utilitarianism states that one should perform the act that will bring the greatest amount of good for all concerned [ (Thiroux & Krasemann, 2009) ]. In order to do an act utilitarianism analysis both the positive and negative consequences of the act have to be taken in to account, and conclude whether net utility will rise or fall due to the act being examined.
For this analysis the positive and negative consequences for sex-selective abortion in China will be analysed, and a conclusion will be drawn as to whether or not it has a greater benefit to a greater number of people in China. Positive Consequences: The practice of sex-selective abortions generally always show a preference to male babies, while the female foetus` are more likely to aborted in China. The practice of sex-selective abortions, which started after the introduction of the One-Child Policy in China, aims at providing families the desired sex of their one child which most often was male.
Families would often want the family name and bloodline continued on, which could only happen if they were to bearer a son. Females in China for a long time were considered to be economic burdens on their family. Cultural beliefs indicate this burden of daughters on families because after she marries and leaves the family she will not bring money in to support the family [ (Muthineni, 2010) ] Negative Consequences: One of the major consequences for sex-selective abortions is the disproportion of male and female population within China.
Since male babies are of preference in China the disproportion shows the population having more males then females. As of 2010 there were nearly 32million more males under the age of 20 then females [ (Hvistendahl, 2010) ]. The large gap doesn’t have much of an impact on their own generation; however the effects will be felt for the next generation unless changes are made. Another major consequences of sex-selective abortions is the fact that almost 13 million female foetus’ have been aborted over the last 30 years because families not wanting to have a female child [ (Nie, 2008) ].
Sex-selective abortion is seen as a form of sexual discrimination which has been condemned by many as immoral [ (Goodkind, 1999) ]. Conclusion of Act Utilitarianism: After reviewing both the positive and negative consequences of sex-selective abortion in China, a conclusion of whether or not net utility will increase or decrease can now be formed. From reviewing the positive and negative consequences of the issue, I believe that the negative consequences are greater and would cause net utility to fall.
The potential for future problems arising from the disproportionate male to female population in China seams very high. If the disproportion isn’t addressed and corrective measures taken to try to balance out the male to female ratio future generations could face drastic problems due to the lack of females in China. Abortion in general is large ethical issue to deal with; however singling out females due to preference of having a son pushes the issue to new limits. If abortions are legal both male and female foetus’ should be given equal opportunity to life, and not be subject to unnatural selection.
In conclusion of Act Utilitarianism analysis it would seem unethical and immoral to allow sex-selective abortions. Part D: Kant’s Categorical Imperative The definition of Categorical Imperative according to Thiroux & Krasemann (2009), “an act is immoral if the rule that would authorize it cannot be made be made in to a rule for all human beings to follow [ (Thiroux & Krasemann, 2009) ]. ” Sex-selective abortion in China, where females are usually aborted more frequently than males, is the ethical issue to analyze with the categorical imperative theory.
According to Kant, if a family is planning on terminating a pregnancy due to the sex of the foetus they must first ask “What is the rule authorizing this act i am about to perform? ” and secondly “Can it become a universal rule for all human beings to follow? ” [ (Thiroux & Krasemann, 2009) ]. In the families case the rule authorizing them to terminate a pregnancy based on an unwanted sex of a foetus would be “Why should we raise a child of an unwanted sex when we can abort the pregnancy and try for our desired sex? In order for this rule to be morally acceptable the family would now have to be able to universalize the statement. The universalized statement would then read “No family should have to raise a child of an unwanted sex; all families should be allowed to abort a pregnancy solely on an unwanted sex of a foetus. ” Can this statement be applied universally? No it can’t as some couples aren’t capable of producing a certain sex of a baby. Research done by Dr. Shuttles observed that some men produce fewer X or Y sperm resulting in only being able to father one sex of baby [ (Maureen, 2005) ].
Since the rule can’t be universally applied the issue of sex-selective abortions would be deemed immoral under Kant’s Categorical Imperative. However it could be argued that if the father knew of his X or Y sperm deficiency a sperm donor of healthy sperm could be used, and thus making the rule universally applicable and deemed morally acceptable. The latter of the two also opens up many other ethical issues based around the use of sperm donors. To conclude using Kant’s Categorical Imperative it would be safe to say that the rule would not be able to universally applied, and making it immoral to allow sex-selective abortions.
Part E: Conclusion Is it ethical for sex-selective abortions to be carried out in China in order for families to have a desired sex of a child? After applying Act Utilitarianism theory to the issue I have found that net utility would actually decrease, due to the greater negative consequence to society. Although in some cases it is beneficial to families to have sex-selective abortions it does not serve as greater good for the greater number of people in China.
Discrimination against females and the burden of an unbalanced population for future generations are the two major drawbacks cause the net utility to decrease. After applying the Act Utilitarianism theory to the issue Kant’s Categorical Imperative was used, and similar results were found. The question that families seeking a sex-selective abortion would have to ask could not be turned in to a universal rule. With the rule not being able to be applied to all human beings sex-selective abortions would be deemed immoral under Kant’s Categorical Imperative.
So after both theories were applied to the issue the conclusion drawn was that it is unethical and immoral to carry out sex-selective abortions in China in order to have a baby of a desired sex. Bibliography Goodkind, D. (1999). Should Prenatal Sex Selection be Restricted? Ethical Questions and their Implications for Research and Policy. Population Studies , 49-61. Hvistendahl, M. (2010). Why China’s Gender Gap Persists. Current History , 109 (728), 248-249. Junhong, C. (2011). Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China.
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