Date: 31 May 2011
Why a Criminal Prohibition on Sex Selective Abortions Amounts to a Thought Crime
- Sonu Bedi
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
In a sex selective abortion, a woman aborts a fetus simply on account of the fetus’ sex. Her motivation or underlying reason for doing so may very well be sexist. She could be disposed to thinking that a female child is inferior to a male one. In a hate crime, an individual commits a crime on account of a victim’s sex, race, sexual orientation or the like. The individual may be sexist or racist in picking his victim. He or she could be disposed to thinking that one race or sex is inferior to another. I argue that while a prohibition on sex selective abortions is anomalous in a liberal, criminal legal framework, hate crime legislation may not be. The former but not the latter constitutes a thought crime. I define a thought crime as one where an agent’s motivation is not just relevant but sufficient to take an act from the domain of the non-punishable to the domain of the punishable. Ignoring a woman’s sexist motivation in procuring an abortion suddenly renders her act of abortion legal. On the other hand, discounting an agent’s bias in committing a hate motivated assault or murder does not transform the act from a punishable one to a non-punishable one. Assaulting or murdering is already a crime.
Agar, N. (2004). Liberal eugenics: In defence of human enhancement. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Al-Hakim, M. (2010). Making room for hate crime legislation in liberal societies. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 4(3), 341–358.CrossRef
Bayles, M. (1982). Character, purpose, and criminal responsibility. Law and Philosophy, 1(1), 5–20.CrossRef
Bélanger, D. (2002). Sex selective abortions: Short-term and long-term perspectives. Reproductive Health Matters, 10(19), 184–197. (Symposium).CrossRef
Berer, M. (2003). HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health: intimately related. Reproductive Health Matters, 11(22), 6–11.CrossRef
Berer, M. (2005). Implementing ICPD: What’s happening in countries: Maternal health and family planning. Reproductive Health Matters, 13(25), 6–10.CrossRef
deCourcy Hinds, M. (1990). Federal judge blocks a new anti-abortion law in Pennsylvania. The New York Times, 1/12/1990.
Dillof, A. M. (1997). Punishing bias: An examination of the theoretical foundations of bias crime statutes. Northwestern University Law Review, 91, 1016.
Duff, R. A. (1993). Choice, character, and criminal liability. Law and Philosophy, 12(4), 345–383.CrossRef
Gellman, S. (1995). Hate crime laws after Wisconsin v. Mitchell. Ohio Northern University Law Review, 21, 863.
Gentleman, A. (2008). Indian prime minister denounces abortion of females. New York Times, 4/29/08.
George, S. M. (2002). Sex selection/determination in India: Contemporary developments. Reproductive Health Matters, 10(19), 184–197. (Symposium).CrossRef
Goodkind, D. (1999). Should prenatal sex selection be restricted? Ethical questions and their implications for research and policy. Population Studies, 53, 49–61.CrossRef
House Resolution 7016. (2008). Susan B. Anthony prenatal nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (To prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race, and for other purposes).
Hume, D. (1978 ). In L. A. Selby-Bigge & P. H. Nidditch (Eds.), A treatise of human nature (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hurd, H. M. (2001). Why liberals should hate ‘Hate Crime Legislation’. Law and Philosophy, 20(2), 215–232.
Husak, D. (1998). Does criminal liability require an act? In R. A. Duff (Ed.), Philosophy and the Criminal law: Principles and critique. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Husak, D. (2007). Rethinking the act requirement. Cardozo Law Review, 28, 2437.
Kahan, D. M. (2001). Two liberal fallacies in the hate crimes debate. Law and Philosophy, 20(2), 175–193.
Kamn, F. M. (2005). Is there a problem with enhancement. The American Journal of Bioethics, 5(3), 5–14.CrossRef
Lawrence, F. M. (2002). Punishing hate: Bias crimes under American law. Cambridge: Harvard Press.
McDougall, R. (2005). Acting parentally: An argument against sex selection. Journal of Medical Ethics, 31(10), 601–605.CrossRef
Mill, J. S. (1989 ). On liberty. Cambridge: Cambridge Press (ed. Stefan Collini).
Oomman, N., & Ganatra, B. (2002). Sex selection: The systematic elimination of girls. Reproductive Health Matters, 10(19), 184–197 (Symposium).
Orwell, G. (1961 ). 1984. New York: Signet Classics.
Rawls, J. (1996 ). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rogers, W., Ballantyne, A., & Draper, H. (2007). Is sex-selective abortion morally justified and should it be prohibited. Bioethics, 21(9), 520–524.CrossRef
Sandel, M. (2007). The case against perfection: Ethics in the age of genetic engineering. Cambridge: Harvard Press.
Schaibley, J. R. (1981). Note. Sex selection abortion: A constitutional analysis of the abortion liberty and a person’s right to know. Indiana Law Journal, 56, 281.
Simester, A. P. (1997). On the so-called requirement for voluntary action. Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 1, 403.
Steiker, C. S. (1999). Punishing hateful motives: Old wine in a new bottle revives calls for prohibition. Michigan Law Review, 97, 1857.CrossRef
The President’s Council on Bioethics. (2003). Choosing sex of children. Population and Development Review, 29(4), 751–760.CrossRef
Warren, M. A. (1985). Gendercide: The implications of sex selection. New Jersey: Rowman & Allanheld.
Weiss, Gail. (1995). Sex-selective abortion: A relational approach. Hypatia, 10(1), 202–217.CrossRef
Zilberberg, Julie. (2007). Sex selection and restricting abortion and sex determination. Bioethics, 21(9), 517–519.CrossRef
- Why a Criminal Prohibition on Sex Selective Abortions Amounts to a Thought Crime
Criminal Law and Philosophy
Volume 5, Issue 3 , pp 349-360
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Sex selective abortions
- Hate crimes
- Thought crime
- Industry Sectors
- Sonu Bedi (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Government, Dartmouth College, 6108 Silsby Hall, Hanover, NH, 03755, USA