How America's obsession with abortion hurts families everywhere.
For nearly two decades, anti-abortion activists have been at work in a disingenuous game, using the stark reduction of women in the developing world as an argument for taking away hard-earned rights. Conservative theorists have written openly about how sex-selective abortion is merely a convenient wedge issue in the drive to ban all abortions, both in the United States and abroad. And now, conservative commentators like the New York Times' Ross Douthat, the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan V. Last, and the editors of the New York Sun have claimed that my book, Unnatural Selection, strengthens their case.
This does not surprise me. One of the themes that cropped up again and again in my reporting was the extent to which American abortion politics on both sides of the question has stalled action on issues of major global importance. But it is deeply unfortunate. The American obsession with abortion does not just hinder work on maternal and child health or access to safe birth control abroad -- two areas that have suffered because of domestic campaigns by anti-abortion activists. It's also distracting U.S. policymakers from what should be the real conversation in a country that leads the world in human reproductive technology: whether to allow parents to use a growing range of methods to select for characteristics like sex (or diseases that come on late in life and, perhaps one day, IQ) in their children. Because sex selection is not just a developing-world problem -- it's an American problem, too.