India

If It Moves, Register It!

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There is growing concern in India over increasingly high abortion rates for female fetuses. Supposedly, having a boy assures parents of an income source in their dotage and spares them the financial burden of a dowry. The result: Many families who can afford it get illegal sex tests done and then have a fetus of the "wrong" sex quietly aborted. Abortions are only allowed in "special circumstances" (e.g. rape, incest etc.) in India, but that doesn't stop one in every 25 females being aborted, according to one study.

The government has come up with a foolproof solution: Have every woman register her pregnancy with the government so they'll know about any illegal abortions. Unfortunately, it's yet to explain how it will enforce the plan, nor what incentives women could possibly have for registering (via Feministing):

Some activists said the government's plan to create a pregnancy register in a country of 1.1 billion people–where more than 50 percent of women deliver children at home without medical assistance–was unrealistic.

"We cannot give elementary health services in a satisfactory way to most of our citizens, and to talk about registering pregnancies is ridiculous," said Alok Mukhopadhyay, head of the Voluntary Health Association of India.

What is it with the recent fad in baby-registering?

Kerry Howley blogged the deficit in German baby production last year.

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  1. How about outlawing abortion except for medical justification?

    Or should they just stick to principle, abort millions of baby girls, and then deal with the crime problems that will invariably come with having millions of men who have no woman to marry or even date for that matter?

  2. will invariably come with having millions of men who have no woman to marry or even date for that matter?

    All those Indian men will simply leave the country to study computer engineering at American universities, where they will similarly find no women to date or marry.

  3. “deliver children at home without medical assistance”

    Clearly I have some work to do over there. Get them in hospitals, then sue the pants off of the hospitals for not doing c-sections.

  4. Please voluntarily inform us before you break the law. Thanks! Toodles!

  5. This is truly horrible, but probably self correcting.

  6. “How about outlawing abortion except for medical justification?

    Or should they just stick to principle, abort millions of baby girls, and then deal with the crime problems that will invariably come with having millions of men who have no woman to marry or even date for that matter?”

    Those aren’t the only two options, y’know. Abortion is legal in the U.S., but we don’t seem to have this problem. India could always take Hernando DeSoto’s advice and free up their markets. Then folks might start making enough money that they’d stop seeing male children as retirement insurance, and start seeing female children as an equal blessing.

  7. Cultural Darwinism at work, in India and in China. If your culture has such a low opinion of women that you wind up lacking enough to keep said culture going, then good riddance and when the last residents of India and China, both horny, lonely 75-year-old virgin males, drop dead of masturbation-inspired heart attacks, that’ll free up the land for settlement by less-asshole two-gendered cultures.

    I’m not kidding. Just wait a generation or two and this problem will solve itself.

  8. Human beings are being killed in India merely because they’re female? I can’t wait for American feminists to be all over this “woman’s issue.” Oh, wait, the human beings in question are still in the womb, so it’s not as if their human rights are being violated or anything. A courageous minority of pro-life feminists might suggest that these unborn females might actually have a right not to be killed, but other feminists will deny this, while at the same time (and inconsistently) deploring the situation – although why should the killing of non-human parasites be a problem?

  9. A population of people that look upon their sons as assets and daughters as liabilities has problems that can’t be fixed by government regulation.

    As always, freedom is the best policy. Letting people choose the sex of their children will make this a self correcting problem… eventually. In the mean time things are going to be pretty painful, but I don’t think you can get from here to there any faster or smoother.

  10. Human beings are being killed in India merely because they’re female? I can’t wait for American feminists to be all over this “woman’s issue.” Oh, wait, the human beings in question are still in the womb, so it’s not as if their human rights are being violated or anything.

    I’m a feminist and I have no problem with this at all. Cultural Darwinism can’t be stopped, and this is far preferable to forcing women to serve a form of slavery by carrying to term pregnancies they don’t want. In a generation or two it won’t be a problem anyway; either the culture will realize that women have inherent value, or it will die out. Humanity improves either way.

  11. Yeah,I think this is a self correcting problem.

    If they don’t value women in their society, let them not have enough. When they don’t have enough then either the value of women in their society will go up, or good riddance.

  12. To be strictly rational, medical technology has greatly improved the probability that a woman will survive childbirth, thereby increasing the number of children that she can expect to bear in her lifetime.

    Therefore, a relatively smaller female population can adequately provide the same reproductive capacity for the species as in the past. (Not that India has ever been short of reproductive capacity.)

    Males, as always, remain entirely expendable in the reproductive arena, however, there’s more to survival than just reproduction.

  13. Therefore, a relatively smaller female population can adequately provide the same reproductive capacity for the species as in the past.

    And what lucky, lucky females they will be.

    Just out of curiosity: althoogh I don’t agree with the anti-abortion attitude, I can at least sort-of understand how one might adhere to it in America; after all, contraception is readily available to women here and so it’s easy for an anti-abortion partisan, especially a male one, to dismiss rape by saying “Rape-induced pregnancies are so rare that I’ll ignore them completely (too bad the pregnant rape victim can’t).”

    But in places like India, where birth control is still very hard to get (by government fiat), and women are still often forced into marriages, sometimes at ages so young they couldn’t even legally get laid in America, you can’t say that “getting pregnant is a woman’s choice” over there.

    But lemme guess: anti-abortion people STILL oppose abortion for some Indian 18-year-old pregnant with her third child by the 40-year-old husband she never wanted to marry in the first place.

  14. But lemme guess: anti-abortion people STILL oppose abortion for some Indian 18-year-old pregnant with her third child by the 40-year-old husband she never wanted to marry in the first place.

    If they’re principled, yes.

  15. If they’re principled, yes.

    What admirable principles indeed, for a man to say a pregnant woman–even one who never chose to have sex in the first place–must then be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

    But those who have such principles say they derive from a love of babies and humanity, not from contempt toward the wishes, desires and right to self-destiny of slightly over half the human race.

  16. I consider myself to be a nominal pro-choice, meaning while I refuse to pay for an abortion, I would not ban abortion or make women or abortion doctors criminals.

  17. I think the main reason we distinguish between killing those born (but not yet considered rational human beings) and those unborn is the emotional impact of seeing a baby, which we are instinctfully protective of vs. an unseen foetus, which is more biological than human. There’s almost an argument to be made of allowing killing of infants along this line which disgusts most people, yet in all practicalness, is not much different.

  18. What admirable principles indeed, for a man to say a pregnant woman–even one who never chose to have sex in the first place–must then be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

    1. Who said anything about “men”?

    2. I’m speaking strictly in terms of consistency here. Many people hold the perfectly reasonable position that life begins at conception. The question for these people, then, is whose claim to rights is superior (the child or the mother).

    But those who have such principles say they derive from a love of babies and humanity, not from contempt toward the wishes, desires and right to self-destiny of slightly over half the human race.

    This is gross (and dare I say deliberate) misrepresentation. See my comment above for the principled view.

  19. “Or should they just stick to principle, abort millions of baby girls, and then deal with the crime problems that will invariably come with having millions of men who have no woman to marry or even date for that matter?”

    Why are crime problems inevitable? While I’m hardly Steve Sailer’s biggest fan, I think he made a good point when he observed that it’s usually an overabundance of women that causes men to act like pigs (such as with the black population in American inner cities), and a scarcity that causes them to act like gentlemen (since, for the women in such a society, it’s a buyer’s market- men have to compete for a limited pool of women, and thus women can essentially dictate the terms).

    Thus, I’m not sold on this. I think that a perfect storm of cheap electronics, rapid urbanization and rapid economic growth will probably lead to a continent full of “video game bachelors” and city-dwelling homosexuals, not rampant crime and militarism… not that the latter won’t be present, but the real causation will be endemic economic corruption and competition for carbon fuels, not sexual frustration.

  20. I consider myself to be a nominal pro-choice, meaning while I refuse to pay for an abortion, I would not ban abortion or make women or abortion doctors criminals.

    LIT, I hear this a lot, but I think it ignores the larger issue, i.e., whether life begins at conception.

  21. I think the main reason we distinguish between killing those born (but not yet considered rational human beings) and those unborn is the emotional impact of seeing a baby, which we are instinctfully protective of vs. an unseen foetus, which is more biological than human.

    That may be it on a gut level, but I know that for me, my opposition to infanticide yet support for abortion boils down to an issue of bodily integrity. I completely oppose forcing any person to use her body as a life-support system to keep another human alive.

    But after the baby has already been born it’s another matter, and while I think it’s a form of slavery to tell a woman “you MUST remain pregnant for another several months, too bad if you don’t like it,” it’s another matter altogether to tell a woman “You know that baby in your arms that you don’t want anymore? Well, you MUST drop it off at a police station, firehouse or emergency room rather than leave it in a dumpster to starve.”

    (In Connecticut, at least, mothers of newborns are allowed to drop their babies off at police stations or hospitals, no questions asked. I don’t know about other states.)

  22. ME: But those who have such principles say they derive from a love of babies and humanity, not from contempt toward the wishes, desires and right to self-destiny of slightly over half the human race.
    X,Y: This is gross (and dare I say deliberate) misrepresentation. See my comment above for the principled view.

    If I got pregnant I’d damn sure do what’s necessary to end that state as soon as possible. Anybody who tried to say “No, you can’t, you must carry the fetus to term and then experience the pain of childbirth” is showing contempt for my wishes, desires and right to self-destiny. But if calling it something other than “contempt” makes you feel better, by all means do so.

  23. If life begins at conception, Heaven (or Limbo) is chock full of blastocysts given the implantation rate of ~40% or so.

  24. Jennifer,
    Do your “wishes, desires and right to self-destiny” allow you to kill your baby after he’s been born?

  25. Do your “wishes, desires and right to self-destiny” allow you to kill your baby after he’s been born?

    Re-read my post from 11:58.

  26. “horny, lonely 75-year-old virgin males drop dead of masturbation-inspired heart attacks”
    Why the vitriol??? I love Chinese and Indian Women. OMG – masterbation causes heart attacks???!! – I thought it was exercise!

  27. x,y,

    I was playing devil’s advocate and while agreeing life could consider beginning at conception, maybe life isn’t valuable until it asserts itself in some way.

    The general notion appears to be thought that after its exited the woman, its human and before its debatable and I was postiing that this is some emotional rather than rational argument, seeing how killing a living thing that you can see is more reprehensible than one you could not see.

    Jennifer takes the stance that until it is seperated from the woman, it can be seen as a part of the woman and therefore her choice whether to keep or remove. This is a more defensible stance from a logical standpoint because it bypasses the human, not human argument.

    I don’t think there will be any clean resolution to this as it is a very personal matter no matter how we try and generalize it. I think the hope is that this scenario eventually ceases to exist (through technology, knowledge, etc), but as it stands, it is a very sticky issue.

  28. I completely oppose forcing any person to use her body as a life-support system to keep another human alive.

    I oppose forcing any person to die because another person has made the first dependent on herself.

  29. or maybe i completely misinterpreted what jennifer said….nevermind.

  30. Joshua,

    Are you accusing a woman’s body of enslavery? Jennifer, if she ever got pregnant, probably never conciously thought “bring me a baby” and made it happen. It is an unconcious chemical reaction done against her will. So you’re essentially blaming her for being female…

  31. LIT, I hear this a lot, but I think it ignores the larger issue, i.e., whether life begins at conception.

    I think this “larger issue” actually gets discussed way to often. Since perfectly reasonable people can disagree vehemently on the subject of “when life begins” it doesn’t seem the least bit obvious to me, not to mention mostly arbitrary and semantic. Person or not, a woman is under no more obligation to carry a fetus to term than you are to give part of your liver to a man dying of cirrhosis.

  32. If life begins at conception, Heaven (or Limbo) is chock full of blastocysts given the implantation rate of ~40% or so.

    Who said anything about Heaven or Limbo?

  33. If I got pregnant I’d damn sure do what’s necessary to end that state as soon as possible. Anybody who tried to say “No, you can’t, you must carry the fetus to term and then experience the pain of childbirth” is showing contempt for my wishes, desires and right to self-destiny. But if calling it something other than “contempt” makes you feel better, by all means do so.

    I could just as easily say you’re showing contempt for the life of the unborn. But I don’t because it’s not productive or fairly representative of your views.

    Please save the hyperbole.

  34. LIT,

    I agree it’s a “sticky issue,” but I enjoy discussing it. Two things:

    1. A person’s DNA is defined at conception.

    2. At conception, the “clump of cells” (to a use a favorite punching bag of some) instantly develops the radical capacity to become what we all agree is a human being.

    I find these points to be quite persuasive.

  35. I have to wonder how a natural miscarriage would be handled in this “registration” scenario. Most often, these occur at the home, away from the certification of doctors. I would fully expect that the rate of “miscarriages” to skyrocket after this law is enacted/enforced.

  36. x,y:

    “1. A person’s DNA is defined at conception.”

    The existence of unique DNA is insufficient to declare someone alive. (e.g. A person’s DNA remains uniquely defined long after death.)

    “2. At conception, the “clump of cells” … instantly develops the radical capacity to become what we all agree is a human being.”

    “Capacity to become a human being” does not equal “human being” any more than “raw materials” equals “completed product”. (I think you’d be a bit upset if I sold you a car but delivered unfinished sheet metal, assorted parts, and a set of assembly instructions.)

  37. I could just as easily say you’re showing contempt for the life of the unborn. But I don’t because it’s not productive or fairly representative of your views.

    Say what you wish. I will freely admit my utter contempt for the idea that any other being has the right to use my body as its life-support system.

    The difference is, I don’t mind admitting that where abortion is concerned, I hold certain ideas in contempt. You do mind admitting it, though.

  38. I oppose forcing any person to die because another person has made the first dependent on herself.

    And if any woman (or man) ever walks up to a biologically independent child and forcibly grafts said child into her own body so that the child can no longer exist without the use of that woman’s body, I’ll be the first one to cry out “The woman does NOT have the right to kill that child!”

    But since such grafting is not possible with current technology, I’m not sure what your point is unless it’s the tired old canard “Anytime a pre-menopausal woman has sex, whether voluntarily or not, she is consenting to have a baby, and one proper role of government is to make damned sure she does.”

  39. The existence of unique DNA is insufficient to declare someone alive. (e.g. A person’s DNA remains uniquely defined long after death.)

    I never said it was a sufficient condition, but you can continue arguing with things I didn’t say.

    “Capacity to become a human being” does not equal “human being” any more than “raw materials” equals “completed product”. (I think you’d be a bit upset if I sold you a car but delivered unfinished sheet metal, assorted parts, and a set of assembly instructions.)

    Left to a natural process, raw materials would not become a car. A fertilized “clump of cells” does. This is what I mean by the radical capacity to become human.

  40. Left to a natural process, raw materials would not become a car. A fertilized “clump of cells” does.

    Only through the use of a woman’s body. I suppose for you, the question is: does the woman’s consent matter? I say it does.

  41. Jennifer,

    The fact is, I don’t mind holding certain ideas in contempt, e.g., your misrepresenting the issue and insistence on using a false dichotomy to frame the debate.

  42. Only through the use of a woman’s body. I suppose for you, the question is: does the woman’s consent matter? I say it does.

    There’s a reason the procedure is called an “abortion.” The procedure aborts an otherwise natural process.

    And I’m not trying to be semantic here.

  43. The fact is, I don’t mind holding certain ideas in contempt, e.g., your misrepresenting the issue and insistence on using a false dichotomy to frame the debate.

    What false dichotomy? Either women should be forced to carry pregnancies against their will, or they shouldn’t. What third choice am I overlooking?

  44. What false dichotomy? Either women should be forced to carry pregnancies against their will, or they shouldn’t. What third choice am I overlooking?

    The incredible array of choices to prevent becoming pregnant in the first place?

  45. That may be it on a gut level, but I know that for me, my opposition to infanticide yet support for abortion boils down to an issue of bodily integrity. I completely oppose forcing any person to use her body as a life-support system to keep another human alive.

    So I guess in a case of conjoined twins, where each is tantamount to a life-support system keeping the other alive, each one has the right to off his/her parasitical brother/sister, and the right to life comes down to who’s quicker to realize this fact and act on it.

  46. The incredible array of choices to prevent becoming pregnant in the first place?

    That’ll be a realistic Choice Three as soon as time-travel technology is prevented.

    I guess in a case of conjoined twins, where each is tantamount to a life-support system keeping the other alive, each one has the right to off his/her parasitical brother/sister, and the right to life comes down to who’s quicker to realize this fact and act on it.

    That’s more analogous to laws against suicide than abortion.

  47. Does the morality of abortion change if one believes in reincarnation?

  48. I guess in a case of conjoined twins, where each is tantamount to a life-support system keeping the other alive, each one has the right to off his/her parasitical brother/sister, and the right to life comes down to who’s quicker to realize this fact and act on it.

    That’s more analogous to laws against suicide than abortion.

    Not if I arrange it so the surgeon leaves me with all the shared organs necessary to sustain my life, while my brother is cut off from, say, my heart and kidney, which he’s been using against my will for all these years.

    My analogy is a lot closer to abortion than that of the violinist in Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous thought experiment.

  49. Not if I arrange it so the surgeon leaves me with all the shared organs necessary to sustain my life, while my brother is cut off from, say, my heart and kidney, which he’s been using against my will for all these years.

    Still doesn’t apply to abortion, since you’re trying to claim all for yourself a “shared” organ that partially belongs to your twin. But if all the organs are in fact yours, and your twin is nothing more than a second head poking out of your shoulder and using all of your internal organs, then yes: I’d say you have the right to surgery that will allow you to have a normal life.

    Except in that case, the decision likely would have been made for you soon after birth, when the doctor surgically removed your parasitical twin.

    Say, isn’t X,Y going to return to explain how forcing a woman to remain pregnant against her will does not in any way demonstrate contempt for the woman’s wishes and desires? Or at least explain what was the “false dichotomy” I allegedly used?

  50. Say, isn’t X,Y going to return to explain how forcing a woman to remain pregnant against her will does not in any way demonstrate contempt for the woman’s wishes and desires? Or at least explain what was the “false dichotomy” I allegedly used?

    Even though it’s a day old thread, I’ll humor you.

    On the “contempt” issue: notwithstanding the inherent subjectivity that comes with defining that word, I have to go back to what I said earlier: If you believe life begins as conception (as I do), the question is whose claim to rights is superior (the child’s or the mother’s). I believe the child’s is and I have my reasons. You believe the mother’s is and you have your reasons. You say I have contempt for the mother. I could say you have contempt for the child. None of this adds to the discussion though.

    On the false dichotomy issue: You said, “Either women should be forced to carry pregnancies against their will, or they shouldn’t.” You continue to miss the point. Even in a libertopia some rights must give way to others. The old saw that your right to swing your arm stops at my face is apropos. You have a right to swing your arm, and I have a right to be free from an unconsented to smackdown. But when those rights collide, someone’s rights must give (wholly or partially). Framing the debate as, “Either you have a right to swing your arm or you don’t” completely misses the point. It’s a classic false dichotomy.

  51. Framing the debate as, “Either you have a right to swing your arm or you don’t” completely misses the point. It’s a classic false dichotomy.

    But “either you have the right to end an unwanted pregnancy or you don’t” is not.

    You say I have contempt for the mother. I could say you have contempt for the child. None of this adds to the discussion though.

  52. Oops! Cut off the end of this comment somehow.

    Framing the debate as, “Either you have a right to swing your arm or you don’t” completely misses the point. It’s a classic false dichotomy.

    But “either you have the right to end an unwanted pregnancy or you don’t” is not.

    You say I have contempt for the mother. I could say you have contempt for the child. None of this adds to the discussion though.

    Sure it does; it expresses whose rights we find most important. But when that mythical Indian 18-year-old I mentioned earlier gets a fistula from having too many babies at too young of an age, I’m sure your “think of the children!” anti-abortion stance will cheer her right the fuck up. Really, it will. Next time her husband forces himself on her I’m sure she’ll submit with a smile, knowing brave souls like you are ready to fight for their right to force her to give birth to baby number four.

  53. But “either you have the right to end an unwanted pregnancy or you don’t” is not.

    Yes it is, and I challenge you to explain why it’s not. I read your posts here, and I know you’re intelligent. But you’re allowing yourself to be blinded on this issue. Framing the issue that way is a clear false dichotomy for the reason I explained.

    Sure it does; it expresses whose rights we find most important. But when that mythical Indian 18-year-old I mentioned earlier gets a fistula from having too many babies at too young of an age, I’m sure your “think of the children!” anti-abortion stance will cheer her right the fuck up. Really, it will. Next time her husband forces himself on her I’m sure she’ll submit with a smile, knowing brave souls like you are ready to fight for their right to force her to give birth to baby number four.

    I’ve been talking about whose rights are superior from the get-go. Except when I say it, I just say it. You use “contempt” as a proxy. Whatever floats your boat.

    As for the Indian girl hypothetical, I’m amazed at how readily you misrepresent me. My “think of the children” views? WTF. My position has nothing to do with children and everything to do with (1) my belief that life begins at conception, and (2) the question of whose claim to rights is superior. Your constant attacks on things I didn’t say is lame. Also, if someone is forcing himself on your hypothetical Indian girl, he should be prosecuted.

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