In a move that ought to (but likely won’t) outrage women’s rights advocates everywhere, President Obama announced today that he opposes proposed legislation that would ban gender-selective abortions. The president’s position defies commentary to the extent that it is difficult to find words appropriate to such a reprehensible stance.

The president’s implicit support of sex-selective abortions is further proof that “killing for convenience” (Robert Bork’s shorthand for abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia) is a disturbingly and increasingly precise description of the practices sought by advocates for euphemistically-named “reproductive rights.” One of the historic faults of American conservatives has been their sluggishness in embracing women’s rights (like the right to vote) compared to their more liberal/progressive counterparts. But the issue of sex-selective abortions demonstrates how fully the tables have turned as Democrats line up to oppose a measure designed to protect unborn women from what has been termed “gendercide.”

Furthermore, President Obama masked his motivation for opposition. The White House’s statement claims that, “The Administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, but the end result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations behind a very personal and private decision.” Yet the legislation explicitly precludes such prosecution, stating, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion…” The President is either fundamentally ignorant of the bill’s contents or deliberately untruthful about the reason behind his position.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about gender-selective abortion is the way in which it opens the door to a new eugenics—the pseudo-science of “improving” the human race by selective procreation. In the late-19th and early 20th centuries, eugenists around the world sought to “improve” the human race by preventing reproduction by those deemed undesirable—the mentally ill, those with physical disabilities, and racial minorities (these categorizations were broadly construed and frequently abused). The eugenic movement even thrived in the United States (in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, the Court upheld forced sterilization for eugenic purposes). Not surprisingly, its champions were the self-styled progressives in whose image the modern Democratic Party has fashioned itself.

Notably, sex-selective abortion is practiced most extensively, but illegally, in China, where couples under the one-child policy use the practice to ensure that their only allowed child is a boy. Indeed, the Chinese government vowed in August of 2011 to crack down on sex-selective abortion, according to the Huffington Post. When an American President lags behind China in his defense of human rights, Americans should be more than worried—they should be outraged.

By Chris Wetzel, PFI Summer Intern
Further reading: Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah; G.K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils.