Gender-Based Abortions: A Slippery Slope

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

The right to choose, to me, has always meant that a woman can have access to abortion for any reason she wants. Not just for circumstances of rape and incest, but for her own, personal reasons that she is at no obligation to disclose. Sometimes it’s the health of the mother, or the health of the fetus. But what if it’s for a more superficial reason—like the gender?

The right to choose, to me, has always meant that a woman can have access to abortion for any reason she wants. Not just for circumstances of rape and incest, but for her own, personal reasons that she is at no obligation to disclose. Sometimes it’s the health of the mother, or the health of the fetus. But what if it’s for a more superficial reason—like the gender?

These so called “gender-based” abortions have been the subject of some debate in Sweden, when recently a women chose to end two pregnancies after learning that the fetuses would be female. According to the Local, and English-language Swedish newspaper, she already had two girls, and was apparently uninterested in having a third. During each pregnancy she requested an amniocentesis—a test on the chromosomes of the fetus to determine if there will be any abnormalities—and to know the gender of the baby. While the results of the amniocenteses are unknown, each time she requested to terminate the pregnancy.

“Doctors at Mälaren Hospital expressed concern and asked Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to draw up guidelines on how to handle requests in the future in which they ‘feel pressured to examine the fetus’s gender’ without having a medically compelling reason to do so.”


This week, the board ruled that women cannot be refused an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, no matter why they choose to do it. And whether or not you agree with her reasoning, the ruling is sound. It is a woman’s right to have an abortion, no matter how flawed the logic of that woman may be.

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We have to be absolute in defending the right to abortion, without parsing the reasons behind it—otherwise, it’s a slippery slope to restricted access. All I can do is disagree this woman, and hold the personal belief that her use of an abortion to control the gender of her children is wrong. But as far as legality, her choice should be protected. No matter what.

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