Lila Rose's AZ Video Doesn't Change The Facts On The Rarity Of Sex-Selective Abortion

Anti-choice activist Lila Rose's campaign to stoke fears that America faces an epidemic of sex-selection abortion sputtered once again, as Rose released another video that utterly failed to alter the fact that sex-selection abortion is not a growing problem.

Rose and her group, Live Action, released a video showing a woman posing as a patient at abortion clinics in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. As with Live Action's previous videos, the fake patients claim that they want to have an abortion because the fetus is female and discuss their options.

Live Action is trying to use these videos to distort the reality about sex-selective abortion in America -- facts show that it is rare:

  • The absence of a gender imbalance in the U.S. indicates that sex selection is not happening on a large scale. As the Guttmacher Institute wrote, “the U.S. sex ratio at birth in 2005 stood at 105 boys to 100 girls, squarely within biologically normal parameters.”
  • Most abortions are performed before gender is identifiable. The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2008, 91.4 percent of abortions were performed before the 13th week of pregnancy. Robert Shmerling of Harvard Health Publications noted that gender identification by means of ultrasound, by far the most popular method, is usually only available by the 16th to 20th week. Although there are methods to detect gender earlier on in a pregnancy, “these procedures are usually performed to detect potential health problems such as Down's syndrome, spina bifida, or cystic fibrosis, not to find out a baby's gender.”

Rose's barrage of videos has coincided with an effort by House Republicans to outlaw some abortions on the false premise that sex selection is widespread problem. The end result of the movement behind the legislation, which was voted down, would be to eliminate abortion rights entirely.

According to House Judiciary Committee members who voted against the bill:

[S]ome proponents of this legislation have publicly admitted that it is intended to undermine, and ultimately overturn, the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. For example, Steven Mosher, who testified at the Constitution Subcommittee hearing on this legislation, has written:

I propose that we -- the pro-life movement -- adopt as our next goal the banning of sex- and race-selective abortion. By formally protecting all female fetuses from abortion on ground of their sex, we would plant in the law the proposition that the developing child is a being whose claims on us should not depend on their sex.

Of course, this suggestion is not original with me. It was originally made by the redoubtable Hadley Arkes, who wrote in the pages of First Things in 1994 that ''we seek simply to preserve the life of the child who survives the abortion. From that modest beginning, we might go on to restrict abortions after the point of ''viability,'' or we could ban those abortions ordered up simply because the child happens to be a female. We could move in this way, in a train of moderate steps, each one commanding a consensus in the public, and each one tending, intelligibly, to the ultimate end, which is to protect the child from its earliest moments.

The legislation raised significant constitutional issues, and doctors and civil rights groups objected to the bill as ineffective and an invasion of the doctor-patient relationship. As Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones noted, “The bill was pretty transparently an attempt to make it harder for all women to get any abortion, period.” Sheppard explained:

Any woman seeking an abortion would be a suspect if the fetus is female--or in other words, all women seeking an abortion are suspects. And under the orginal version of the bill, doctors would have been required to racially profile any woman of color, since they're most definitely carrying a fetus of color and are therefore a suspect. PRENDA would basically amount to trying to enforce a thought-crime, as medical professionals would be expected to somehow determine (maybe with mind-reading?) whether the woman's motivation for getting an abortion was the gender or race of the fetus before they perform the abortion that she has requested.