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, 43 (2), 270-4

False Framings: The Co-opting of Sex-Selection by the Anti-Abortion Movement


False Framings: The Co-opting of Sex-Selection by the Anti-Abortion Movement

Seema Mohapatra. J Law Med Ethics.


Jesudason and Weitz's article examines two public policy debates in California, where both sides of the debate used similar language that had the potential to be detrimental to women. Specifically, they show how anti-abortion crusaders in California used similar language to describe why women's rights should be curtailed as pro-choice advocates use when fighting for more choice and privacy for women's reproductive decisions. This commentary builds upon their article by demonstrating the harm that such co-opting causes to women's rights using the example of sex selective abortion. By examining the legislative history of state and national bills to ban sex-selective abortion, this commentary demonstrates how the anti-abortion lobby has adopted the language of pro-choice advocates quite effectively. Although the framing of this issue as being "woman-protective" is strategic and insincere, such political framing is powerful, as Jesudason and Weitz have noted. Anti-abortion activists have convinced lawmakers in many states that sex-selective abortion is a dire issue in their state and that they must restrict it in order to protect women. In fact, there is no evidence that sex selective abortion is a problem in the United States, yet these frames have been very effective in weakening women's privacy rights. Whenever woman-protective framings are invoked for self-serving purposes, women's rights advocates must work hard to uncover the truth behind these discourses to prevent successful legislative efforts that curtail women's reproductive freedom.

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