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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - PSC Research Report Series
Title Sex-selective abortion, reproductive rights, and the greater locus of gender discrimination in family formation: Cairo's unresolved questions
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
URL http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/pubs/papers/rr97-383.pdf
Abstract
Prenatal sex testing followed by sex-selective abortion represents ablatant form of discrimination. Hence, it has been widely condemned byinternational observers as being harmful and unethical. At the same time, to restrictaccess to prenatal sex testing would appear to contradict the broader agenda ofthe recent Cairo conference on population and development, which shifteddevelopmental priorities in favor of maternal empowerment and reproductiverights. This article explicates five related questions that remain unresolved inCairo s wake: 1) whether sex-selective abortion stems from culture (classicallydefined) or context, 2) whether sex-selective abortion will decrease following adecline in discriminatory attitudes, 3) whether sex-selective abortion substitutes forpostnatal discrimination, 4) whether condemnations of prenatal sex selection canbe reconciled with other policy agendas related to abortion rights, and 5) whetherfuture demographic imbalances in the sex ratio of adults is cause for concern. Thepivotal theme linking these unresolved questions is whether concerns aboutprenatal sex selection can and should be separated from concerns about abortion,more generally, and other forms of parental discrimination against young daughters.Our collective insights into these thorny issues have heretofore failed us, due toboth powerful political forces and the limited comparative design of recent researchon gender discrimination across the early stages of the life course

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