Why Wendy Savage is Wrong About Sex Selective Abortion
Last year a top ethics professor at the British Medical Association argued in favour of ‘sex selective’ abortion. Professor Wendy Savage, in an interview with The Mail in March 2016, stated that she believed the law in England banning abortions based on gender should be repealed.
Professor Savage’s comments were met with backlash from both pro-life and pro-choice individuals.
Sex selective abortion is becoming increasingly more common around the globe and is a rising concern among human rights advocates. The UN reports that up to 200 million girls are missing from the world today as a result of sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and other forms of violence.
Nonetheless, according to Savage, ‘forcing’ a woman to continue a pregnancy carrying a child of an undesired sex ‘is not going to be good for the eventual child’. She states that a foetus is not an ‘actual human life’.
However, if a foetus is not ‘an actual human life’ then why does sex-selective abortion disturb us so much? How is it that we feel such a great sense of injustice at the idea that women are being targeted and discriminated against before they are even born? The truth is that once we deny personhood to the unborn, Savage’s arguments simply bring the pro-choice stance to its logical conclusion. If abortion involves only a woman and her rights then any limitation is unjustifiable. It should not matter to us what her reasons are for having an abortion.
However, the reality is that abortion does not just involve a woman.
Thus, the central flaw in Savage’s argument lies in her statement that a foetus is ‘not an actual human life’. This statement is simply false. A baby’s heart starts beating approximately 21 days after conception. By the 6th week of pregnancy the baby’s mouth, nose and ears are taking shape. By the 7th week both hands and feet can be seen developing. After ten weeks even nails are growing on the baby’s fingers and toes.
As a qualified professor at the BMA Wendy Savage surely knows this only too well. More importantly, as much as we may try to deny it, we know this too.
There is a gross irony in allowing unfettered women’s rights to prevent baby girls even making it safely through pregnancy. On the other hand it’s equally paradoxical to argue that abortion doesn’t end a life while at the same time imposing bans on sex selective abortions.
The honest solution is to accept the reality which today’s society tries so hard to ignore. The unborn foetus is not a potential life. It is a life with potential which needs to be protected and respected just like any other human life.
Sex-selective abortion is the gravest attack on the rights of women. It ends the very life of a human being simply because she will not be born a boy.