LIFE DIGEST: Sex-selection abortions help cause growing imbalance in China

WASHINGTON (BP)--More than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age are likely to be unable to find wives in the year 2020, partly because of the frequency of sex-selection abortions.

A government-supported study issued Jan. 11 showed the huge imbalance of the sexes, which it described as the country's most significant demographic problem. China is the world's most populous country, with about 1.3 billion people.

China has enforced population control -- commonly referred to as a one-child policy -- since 1979. Its policy limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.

With the aid of ultrasound technology, couples are able to choose abortion if the wife is carrying a female. Many couples desire male babies, so they can be supported financially by their sons as they age.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in its report, "Sex-specific abortions remained extremely commonplace, especially in rural areas," according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). AFP's article was based on a report by the Global Times, a newspaper operated by the Chinese government.

The study said the primary contributing factors to the imbalance included the population control program and an inadequate social security system.

The lack of women already is causing major social upheaval in some parts of China. The kidnapping and trafficking of women is "rampant" in regions with an excess of men, according to AFP. Forced prostitution and illegal marriages also are issues in those areas.

Penalties for violations of the population control policy have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes, as well as forced abortion and sterilization. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.

SCHIAVO DEATH TOP STORY -- The 2005 dehydration death of Terri Schiavo was "hands down" the most important bioethics story in the last decade, a specialist in the field says.

Writing at National Review Online, pro-life bioethics commentator Wesley Smith ranked the top 10 stories in the field from 2000 through 2009.

Schiavo was the 41-year-old Florida woman who received a "persistent vegetative state" diagnosis and died when food and water were withheld from her at the request of her husband, Michael, and over the opposition of her parents after a lengthy legal battle.

"Who hasn't heard her name? Who doesn't have an opinion about what happened?" Smith wrote. The Schiavo case, he said, "was far more than a personal and family tragedy: It was a modern-day passion play from which we are still reeling.

"With Terri dead and buried, and with majority poll support, some of the most notable voices within bioethics and transplant medicine openly argue that persistently unconscious patients should, with consent of family, have their organs harvested -- which results in death -- or be used in research as if they were actually dead," Smith wrote. "And with Obamacare coming full throttle, the question of whether the expenses required to care for these most helpless patients will continue to be borne has become a subject of acute bioethical attention."

Here is the rest of Smith's top 10 in descending order: 2) President Bush's 2001 restriction on federal funding of stem cell research that destroys human embryos; 3) the "anarchy" of the virtually unregulated field of in vitro fertilization; 4) Switzerland's assisted-suicide "tourism" industry for people from other countries; 5) the successful treatments produced by adult stem cell research; 6) the state of Washington's legalization of assisted suicide in 2008; 7) the fight over health care reform in 2009; 8) the increase in pro-life public opinion; 9) the spread of "biological colonialism and 10) the rise in an "anti-human environmentalism."

Smith said the "signals are mixed" regarding what these events say about human beings and society.

"First, we are in danger of supplanting human exceptionalism -- belief in the intrinsic dignity and equality of human life -- with a 'quality-of-life ethic' in which some of us are deemed to matter more than others," he wrote. "But the path to such a brave new world is proving to be neither straight nor unimpeded. Indeed, there are encouraging signs the sanctity of life could make a comeback."

ABORTIONS BLOCKED -- A California judge has ordered a doctor to stop doing abortions after a woman died during an abortion procedure performed by him.

At a Jan. 7 hearing in San Diego, Administrative Law Judge James Ahler directed Andrew Rutland to stop performing abortions and delivering babies but did not suspend his medical license, the Los Angeles Times reported. A formal disciplinary hearing will be held on Rutland's actions during the case that resulted in the woman's death.

Ying Chen, 30, died during a second-trimester abortion in August at a clinic in San Gabriel, Calif., according to the Times. Rutland "committed repeated negligent acts in his care and treatment of the patient" during the procedure, California Deputy Attorney General Douglas Lee said at the hearing. The doctor did not have the equipment or assistance needed when she suffered a toxic reaction to a drug, Lee said, the Times reported.

WOMAN GETS $1.9 MILLION -- A New Jersey abortion clinic and two doctors will pay $1.9 million to a woman who had serious complications from a 2007 abortion.

According to the settlement, Rasheedah Dinkins will receive $1 million from Metropolitan Medical Associates, an Englewood, N.J., clinic, and $900,000 from two doctors who were involved in her care at the facility, The Record, a Bergen County, N.J., newspaper, reported Dec. 13. The settlement was reported initially in the New Jersey Law Journal.

Dinkins filed suit when she suffered massive blood loss, a stroke and a collapsed lung following a second-trimester abortion at the clinic in January 2007. Dinkins, who was 20 at the time, was in a coma for three weeks and underwent a hysterectomy, The Record reported.


Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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