A study reported in today’s New York Times suggests that the practice of sex-selection, commonplace in Asia, continues in subsequent generations of immigrants to the United States:

The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent.

In those families, if the first child was a girl, it was more likely that a second child would be a boy, according to recent studies of census data. If the first two children were girls, it was even more likely that a third child would be male.

Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.

Although the NY Times article does not distinguish among the prevalence of various sex selective methods (in vitro, sperm sorting, abortion), the study itself makes clear that sex-selective abortion is the most likely factor:

We interpret the found deviation in favor of sons to be evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage. Since 2005, sexing through a blood test as early as 5 weeks after conception has been marketed directly to consumers in the U.S., raising the prospect of sex selection becoming more widely practiced in the near future.

Interestingly, according to the study, the problem has increased, not decreased, in the past decades:

Finally, the male bias we find in the U.S. appears to be recent. In the 1990 U.S. Census, the tendency for males to follow females among Indians, Chinese, and Koreans is substantially muted.

This raises, once again, an issue I wrote about in early April regarding the practice of sex-selective abortion in China: What if a woman’s right to choose results in fewer women?

The comments in response to my post attributed sex-selective abortion in China to China’s one-child policy. This was a typical response:

“Now, the individual who wrote this has a law degree. Not only does he have a law degree, but he teaches law at Cornell University. Cornell University! And yet he does not know that the aborting of female fetuses is the result of China’s one-child-per-couple policy combined with the extremely low status of females in China. When you are only allowed one child, and the societal value of a girl child is close to zero, then you are creating a powerful preference for that one child to be a boy — to the point where many are willing to abort female fetuses or kill newborn female infants. Under circumstances like these, there is little to no connection between legality and choice with regard to abortion in China. A coerced choice is no choice at all.”

But the study reported in the NY Times presents a dilemma to those who seek refuge in China’s one-child policy. Cultural differences, which survive in this country, appear to be the decisive factor, and those cultural preferences show no sign of easing.

So the question remains, are those who oppose any restriction on sex-selective abortion as an adjunct of women’s rights, willing to live with the consequence that this choice results in fewer women being born? I imagine the answer will be yes for most, but at least people should be honest about the consequences of their choice.

Related Post: When A Woman’s Right To Choose Results In Fewer Women

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook