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China's Brave New World
by Culture Jam for Life

Chinese couples are using inexpensive prenatal scans to determine the sex of their unborn child, and then aborting if the child is a girl. This reflects the culture’s value of having a boy instead of a girl. It also reflects the sad state of their country as well. According to recent studies and census data, China has the largest gender gap among newborns of any country. The gap widened at the turn of the century due to the distribution of ultra-scan equipment to every area of the country. In one county, when a couple already had a daughter, and found out that their second child is a girl as well, 92 percent of the time they had an abortion.

According to the official New China News Agency, some parts of the Guangdong region showed an average ratio as of 144 boys for every 100 girls. This translates into almost three boys for every two girls. That region tried to enforce a law that banned prenatal screening to determine the sex of the fetus, but it proved to be too hard to enforce. At some private clinics in eastern part Guangdong, a prenatal scan can be obtained with four dollars, while a same-day abortion is anywhere from 15 to 120 dollars (1).

In parts of India as well as other Asian countries, girls are killed either in utero or shortly after birth because of their sex (2). Other countries that prefer boys include Korea: in the early 1990s, 122 boys were born for every 100 girls, instead of the normal 105 to 100 ratio. In China, 117 boys were born for every 100 girls. Even though sex selective abortion is illegal in all of these countries, people still practice it, which has led to a shortage of girls some have estimated to be up to 100 million at some point (3). In China, the recent drop in number of girls to boys is a result from sex-selective abortion (4).

1. Erik Eckholm, "Desire for Sons Drives Use of Prenatal Scans in China," New York Times, June 21, 2002.

2. See “Female infanticide growing in India,” Women’s International Network News 19, no. 4 (Autumn 1993), 61 and Shanam Saini, “born TO DIE,” Humanist 62, no. 4 (July/August 2002): 25-27.

3. Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), 80-81. See also Ansley J. Coale and Judith Banister, “Five Decades of Missing Females in China,” Demography 31, no. 3 (August 1994).

4. Ansley J. Coale and Judith Banister, “Five Decades of Missing Females in China,” Demography 31, no. 3 (August 1994).