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'''Female feticide''' is the termination of the life of a fetus within the womb on the grounds that its sex is female. '''Female feticide''' is thus the conjunction of two ethical evils: abortion and gender bias. A fetus’s right to life outweighs the parents' rights to wealth, pride, or convenience, whether the fetus is male or female. The term "sex selective abortion" is preferable to the term feticide, since it points to both of the ethical evils inherent in this practice.
Female feticide has replaced female [[infanticide]] as a means to reduce or eliminate female offspring. In societies where women's status is very low, many female fetuses are rejected. Thus,
perhaps 300 million of the total number of aborted female fetuses have been victims of female feticide. This number is based on a predicted ratio of boy-to-girl births and does not take into account the male and female fetuses that are aborted for non-gender-based reasons.
The practice of female feticide denies the purpose of all human life—[[salvation]] through [[theosis|transformation]] in the image of God. An aborted fetus is denied this transformation in its fullest sense. Therefore, the Orthodox Church, which exists "for the life of the world," has an [[ethics|ethical]] responsibility to denounce the practice of female feticide; to persuade national political and economic leaders to oppose female feticide; to understand and counteract its economic, societal, and religious causes; and to care for those who suffer from its effects.
In countries such as China and India, the practice of infanticide continued into the 20th century. However, the 1970s saw a dramatic drop in the girl-to-boy ratio in India, when abortion was legalized and ultrasound technology enabled families to determine the sex of their child by the fourth month of pregnancy. By 2005 the ratio slipped to 814 girls for every 1,000 boys, as opposed to the natural rate of 952 girls for every 1,000 boys.
==Case Study: India&
===Traditional Practices of India===
The life of a woman in India is often marked by such disrespect that some feel it is better for the family, and even for the baby girl, that she not be born. Perhaps the greatest factor in this is the practice of dowries. One slogan of the female feticide industry is "better 500 rupees now [for an abortion] rather than 50,000 rupees later [for a dowry]." The first amount equals about $11 (USD), the second about $1,100. India has a longstanding tradition of requiring a wife's family to support her financially in her marriage. This begins with a dowry of extraordinary sums of cash, gold, and goods.
All countries where female feticide is practiced are at risk for being caught in a vicious circle. Female feticide leads to low female-to-male ratios, which in turn perpetuates low status of women. Conversely, low status of women leads to more female feticide.
Rodney Stark, in ''The Rise of Christianity'', points out that one of the ways Christianity revolutionized the status of women in Greco-Roman society was by opposing all infanticide. Stark cites the social scientific work of Guttentag and Secord "linking cross-cultural variations in the status of women to cross-cultural variations in sex ratios. ... To the extent that males outnumber females, women will be enclosed in repressive sex roles as men treat them as 'scarce goods.' Conversely, to the extent that females outnumber males ... women will enjoy relatively greater power and freedom." As the ratio of women to men increased, women came to enjoy higher status in the society as a whole, not only amongst the growing proportion of Greco-Romans who were Christians.&
If an increase in ratio of women to men brings higher status to women, a decrease in this ratio risks the opposite effect. Thus, the decrease in the boy-to-girl birth ratio, itself the result of the low status of women in Indian society, risks a sharp further decrease in the status of women from bad to worse. The danger is a vicious circle bringing continually greater female feticide and lowering of the status of women in Indian society.
1. ''The Rise of Christianity'', Rodney Stark, Princeton University Press (1997), p. 128.
's imbalance of sexes," in ''The Washington Times'', February 26, 2007.
Taken from "India's imbalance of sexes," in ''The Washington Times'', February 26, 2007.
4 . ''The Rise of Christianity'', Rodney Stark, Princeton University Press (1997), p. 102.