Female fetuses require equal rights

Sunday, December 11, 2011
Daniel J. Bauer

Forgive me for opening today with a sensitive and personal reference. I hope my decision to be so personal (especially at the beginning here) is the right one. I am doing this to draw readers and possibly hold them here for a few minutes of conversation.

Conversations of course go in two or more directions, and require give and take. Who can say? Perhaps a reader here or there will respond to the words that follow via The China Post. I would like that very much.

A couple years ago, I stumbled across a vehement personal attack against me on the Internet in a blog published in Taiwan by someone I do not know. The blog-writer treated me like a punching bag because of columns I had written from time to time about abortion and the value of life.

I didn't mind my reader's disagreement with my views. Even small wheel writers like me are just grateful to have readers, period. I don't expect people to agree with me all the time.

As a matter of fact, I have found over the years that I sometimes change my views, thanks to personal experience, or new information or, yes, confrontation from perspicacious readers. To change in life is very often a healthy and wise thing to do.

The blog-writer was angry not merely at the words I had written in the past about abortion. He was angry with me. He said I was a knee-jerk critic, and that I was neither thoughtful nor sensitive to women's needs. He said it was only natural that I would use my “clerical position” to criticize behavior that my religion teaches is immoral or dehumanizing, or whatever. He implied in his blog that the world would be a lot better off if people like me (rabbis, ministers, priests and so on) stayed out of print and kept our views to ourselves.

I hope my blog-writing friend caught the news that the government Control Yuan expressed concern this week about the shameful number of sex-selective abortions that have occurred recently here in Taiwan. The Yuan strongly criticized government agencies, the Bureau of Health Promotion for one, and the Food and Drug Administration the other, for dragging their feet in investigating how it is that some 3,000 female babies somehow just did not get born in the past year. The China Post covered this story on page 19 on December 8. A rival English paper made it front page news on the same day.

The China Post spoke of the baby girls “disappearing,” and I'll not quibble over the word. We all know, however, that those girls did not disappear at all. We threw them away. We didn't want those girls. History shows us that evil can be that way, that sometimes people snuff out the lives of others like flames on candlewicks.

Explanations for sex-selective abortions more or less follow the same formula. A woman with no children becomes pregnant in her late 30s, and when fetal gender screening shows the child is a girl, heads to a different medical center and gets an abortion. Or someone who already has a daughter or two finds a third girl is on the way, and - -. This is not an issue for women alone. The fathers of those little ones are equally as responsible for terminating these lives.

The truth ought to be clear by now in the 21st century, but I guess we're slow learners. The truth is that sons are not more precious than daughters, and daughters are not more precious than sons. All life is precious.

Isn't it more than time now to stop the silly talk we occasionally hear of only males being the rightful “heirs” in a family? Isn't it time we put away the rusty words about “carrying on the family name”?

Some may feel a handful of religious leaders have a monopoly on concern about abortion. I think not. We don't need to be particularly faith-oriented or spiritual about the question. This is destruction of human life. Many caring people believe abortion is wrong, and that sex-selective abortion is particularly odious. They view it as an outrage against humanity.

Which is exactly what it is.

Father Daniel J. Bauer SVD is a priest and associate professor in the English Department at Fu Jen Catholic University.

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