Sunday, April 06, 2008

Choosing boys over girls

Jeff Jacoby's analysis in today's Boston Globe is right on the mark, and has (as Secretary of State Kissinger once said) the added benefit of being true--based on some factual study. It is now a given that women around the world are using abortion--sometimes in response to government mandates to limit family size--to gender-select their children. However, they choose boys instead of girls with statistically significant regularity. I don't know the demographic mechanics of this, but it sounds like a disaster in the making. Jacoby worries that American women may be doing the same. I'm sure it proves nothing one way or the other, but I have known more than one family over the years whose sole reason for having that second, third or later child was that the earlier children were all girls.

I'll simply say that humankind's deeper moral intuitions, around which later codes of law are constructed, may embody serious truths. And truths will defeat ideology every time, in the long run. Facts are what remain, no matter how inconvenient they may seem to one's own prejudices or to the prevailing winds of opinion.

Another perhaps random thought: when I was young, the older ladies would say, upon hearing that so-and-so had had a male child, that it seemed there had been a lot of boys born lately. At that point, someone would take the cue and chime in: "Well, it looks like there's going to be a war." Is a tale told by old wives necessarily an old wives' tale?

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