American filmmakers made a documentary dealing with the issue of sex selective abortion and infanticide. The amount of this going on in the world is staggering. Estimates suggest that more girls are killed in India and China each year due to families wanting sons instead than are born each year in the US.
You would think that this is the sort of issue that everyone could agree on. Not so, however. Slate columnist Sital Kalantry chastises feminist groups for allowing themselves to be sucked in by a documentary which was apparently (gasp) made by pro-lifers:
It’s a Girl, a documentary about the tragic practice of sex-selection abortions in India and China, is being widely screened by pro-choice groups across America, including the New Jersey Chapter of the National Organization for Women and feminist groups on university campuses. It was an official selection for the Amnesty International Film Festival in 2012 and appeared in Ms. magazine’s feminist movies review. But as organizations and groups evaluate whether to screen this movie, they should be aware that the film’s director worked for Harvest Media Ministry, an organization that makes pro-life and other videos for church groups.
How did this happen? How did a movie linked to a pro-life group become the darling of the pro-choice community? The story involves clever disguises on the part of financing sources that managed to hide their involvement and pass off a movie about the horrors of sex-selection abortions as just a sympathetic movie about the plight of women in India and China. And the pro-life message is subtle enough that they got away with it.
The closest the movie comes to endorsing a broad anti-abortion message is at the end, when Indian writer Rita Banerji states that “all life is sacred.” The final scene is a lengthy heart-wrenching depiction of a woman playing with her two daughters who she refused to abort despite her in-laws’ insistence. But the message is subtle enough that a recent review appearing in the Atlantic claims that the movie “doesn’t buttress either pro-life or pro-choice—or, at least, doesn’t buttress one at the expense of another.”
Pro-life groups have in recent years begun using the practice of sex-selective abortion—a practice that is rare in the United States—in foreign countries as an excuse for limiting women’s access to abortion here at home. A bill was recently filed in the North Carolina legislature to ban sex-selective abortion, and a similar bill was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Although no one supports sex-selective abortion, pro-choice groups correctly worry that such laws could be misused to restrict abortion more broadly.
Female feticide and infanticide will end only when the inequalities— such as dowry, inheritance laws, lack of equality in education, lack of economic opportunities, and other forms of discrimination against girls and women—that create a son preference change. As well-intentioned Americans who wish to address human rights violations in other countries, we should fully inform ourselves about the background, goals, and tactics used by filmmakers and organizations before we choose to support them.
Apparently, if it’s pro-lifers who are opposing the wholesale slaughter of girl babies, it is in the interest of women’s rights to stand back and wait for the root causes of the slaughter to abate. Otherwise, they might somehow be playing the game of those anti-choice fanatics.