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Should Prenatal Sex Selection be Restricted? Ethical Questions and Their Implications for Research and Policy

Daniel Goodkind
Population Studies
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Mar., 1999), pp. 49-61
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2584811
Page Count: 13
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Should Prenatal Sex Selection be Restricted? Ethical Questions and Their Implications for Research and Policy
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Abstract

Sex-selective abortion following prenatal sex testing is so blatantly discriminatory that many observers have, understandably, called on governments to condemn and restrict the practice. Yet ethical questions that counterbalance these sentiments have been neglected. Restricting the practice would seem to interfere with reproductive freedoms and maternal empowerment, the twin goals adopted at the recent Cairo conference. The restrictions may also increase human suffering if sex discrimination is then shifted into the postnatal period. Consideration and empirical testing of this substitutive dynamic has been precluded by limitations in the comparative design of recent research and a lack of appropriate data. Nevertheless, this dynamic has always been presumed to exist by pro-choice advocates. Moreover, extending anti-discriminatory legislation to the prenatal realm may awaken and justify similar demands among other disadvantaged groups whose foetal counterparts have previously engendered less public sympathy, which may result in further restrictions on abortion.

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