Selective abortion, pregnancy termination

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・MLA ・4 Sources

Selective abortion occurs when the parent chooses to terminate the pregnancy due to various reasons. This could be because the fetus has undesirable characteristics or genetic disorders that will be a threat to the child’s survival. Undesirable characteristics include the wrong gender such as the baby is a girl and the parent wanted a boy. There are three types of selective abortion including, sex-selective abortion, selective reduction, and genetically related abortion. Selective abortion could also be performed when the child is a threat to the health of the mother particularly those who have diabetes (Alkhuriji et al. 3). This paper will delve into analyzing the types of selective abortion and highlight the reasons for pregnancy termination.

Sex-Selective Abortion

This is the practice of terminating a pregnancy due to the predicted wrong sex of the fetus. The child could be a boy, and the family preferred a boy and visa verse. Sex-selective abortion is commonly done when the child is of the female gender. Many societies accord more value to male gender than to female gender. This practice, therefore, affects the ratio of male to female in a given society. Williams elucidates that sex-selective practice is common in India and China where the value placed on men is more comparable to that of women and hence resulted in unbalanced gender ratio (Williams 3). Simply put, unbalances in gender ratio and abnormal sex birth of boys to girls imply the practice of sex-selective abortion in the society. Williams goes ahead to indicate that the population sex and the sex birth ratios depict to be constant in all human populations (Williams 5). Hence, any significant deviations from the normal value are explained by sex-selective abortion.

There are varied reasons that cause sex-selective abortion, but many are the cultural factors rather than economic status. The historical importance that is associated with the male gender in many societies is the dominant driving force behind the sex-selective abortions. Rao notes that the reasons why sex-selective is intensified in India and China arise from the cultural background where the male children were more preferred to women (Rao 12). These are because men are said to provide manual labor and continue the family lineage. Hence the patriarchal social norms augmented the need for a boy increasing its prevalence in some societies. Besides, socioeconomic status of the parent fuel sex-selective pregnancy termination. Rao further indicates raising a child makes a parent to incur expenditures such as immunization, food, and healthcare (Rao 13). Hence, when the parent thinks that all this is done to a girl who will later get married and leave the family, she chooses to terminate the pregnancy. Girls are also associated with the dowry expenses and hence thought to drain the wealth of the family and thus preference for a boy child.

Genetics and Selective Abortion

A mother could choose to terminate a pregnancy because the child is having some genetic disorders. This selective abortion is done when the child is found to have fatal physical or mental defects. Ferguson-Smith in his journal Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion mentions that the advent of various forms of prenatal diagnosis has made it possible to detect fetal disorders (Ferguson-Smith 5). For this reason, deformed or children with genetic problems are aborted. Testing for Down syndrome genetic disorder has also made it possible to detect the defect in the fetus and make the parent choose whether to abort or to carry the pregnancy to term. Notably, the high technology evident in the current society makes it possible for medical practitioners to screen for Down syndrome in pregnant mothers.

Ferguson-Smith reports that currently, 90% of a fetus who are found to have the Down syndrome genetic disorder when fetal genetic testing is done are aborted (Ferguson-Smith 17). This is because the chromosomal abnormalities in the child could prove to be expensive for the family to afford. In addition, the child will have challenges in living a normal life, and he or she is likely to die. Some mothers also choose to abort disabled children. In respect to this, proponents of disability selective abortion argue that this practice saves the child and the parent from suffering. However, those who oppose the disability selective pregnancy termination contend that every fetus and disabled people have the right to live and the practice is a violation of human rights.

Selective Reduction Pregnancy Termination

This is also called multi-fetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) and involve a procedure of reducing the number of the fetus in a mother’s womb when she has a multi-fetal pregnancy. Here, the mother could be carrying twins or quadruplets while she is only interested in having one child. This type of abortion is done for both medical and non-medical reasons. Medical reasons include the problems that are generally related to having multiple births. They include having low child birth weight, premature births, and unhealthy children. The non- medical reasons encompass challenges emanating from emotional or financial problems. The parents could not be emotionally prepared to raise two children because of the challenges of parenthood, or they could have already given birth to other children and only want one child. A key umbrella to this type of selective abortion is socio-economic factors. This makes a family not to be in a position of raising multiple children at the same time. The multi-fetal reduction is normally made during the first trimester of pregnancy (Alkhuriji et al. 10). Procedural factors involve the injection of potassium chloride to the heart of the fetus to make the heart stop and eventually die.


Selective abortion is a practice that has been in existence for a long time in many societies, and it is still prevalent in the current society. Selective abortion is carried out when the fetus is considered unacceptable and particularly on the grounds of the wrong gender. Vast literature indicate that China and India are highly associated with this type of abortion. Sex-selective abortion widens the gender gap. Many people opt to terminate the female gender due to cultural norms that underrate the female gender. Men are thought to bring wealth to the family and continue the family’s lineage, but the girls get married and disappear from the family. Socioeconomic factors could also be the underlying reasons. In places such as China, preference for male children has resulted in gender imbalance. Also, selective abortion could be caused by multiple fetuses, and here, the mother terminates the pregnancy due to medical or non-medical reasons. Furthermore, genetic disorders such as Down syndrome and other forms of disability cause selective abortion. Deformity of a child could create a problem for the family and the child and thus lead to pregnancy termination.

Works Cited

Alkhuriji, Afrah Fahad et al. "Review Article: Causes Of Recurrent Of Abortion." International Journal of Contemporary Research and Review, 2017, Innovative Journal, doi:10.15520/ijcrr/2017/8/07/265.

Ferguson-Smith, M. A. "Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion." Journal of Medical Genetics, vol 13, no. 2, 1976, pp. 167-167. BMJ, doi:10.1136/jmg.13.2.167.

Rao, Radhika. "Selective Reduction: “A Soft Cover For Hard Choices” Or Another Name For Abortion?" The Journal Of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol 43, no. 2, 2015, pp. 196-205. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1111/jlme.12233.

Williams, Jeremy. "Sex-Selective Abortion: A Matter of Choice." Law and Philosophy, vol 31, no. 2, 2011, pp. 125-159. Springer Nature, doi: 10.1007/s10982-011-9118-x.

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