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Abortion of Intersex Fetuses

pro-choice needs to be more than just abortion rights

Forum: Intersexed_Society list
Date: 04/09/2004

On 4/9/04 9:27 AM, "pretzelkat" wrote:

I'm against anti-abortion laws, and don't take issue with most pre-natal screening, but I don't think the latter should justify the former in all cases.

Increased access to prenatal screening *without* increased social services or support for families with children who have "abnormal" medical condition will certainly result in the increased selective abortion of fetuses with "undesirable" characteristics.

But the solution is not to restrict abortions, or prenatal screenings for that matter: a true pro-choice approach (and by that, I mean the position that advocates for wide range of choices for the woman, rather than just the option of abortion) is to create more resources for all children and families so that mothers are not coerced into aborting their fetuses due to social and familial pressure or lack of information and resources.

The useful thing about post-natal sreening is that it prepares parents and COULD prevent the scenario of: "You have a beautiful baby, uhhh...", snip, snip, "girl!"

They already do prenatal screening for CAH when the fetus is suspected of having it, either because parents are carriers of one of the genes that causes one of several variations of CAH or because they detect enlarged clitoris in utero. And when the result comes out positive, they put the mother on dexamethasone. The purpose of dexamethasone treatment is to prevent the clitoris from becoming virilized so that the cutting would be "unnecessary" (yeah, when was it ever actually "necessary" to cut clitoris anyway?), but it appears that mothers are frequently not told of any potential side effects of this medicine; I've even seen several "patient information" websites and printouts that even say that it's safe, despite the fact that there are many studies suggesting a slew of possible harms.

Basically, I think laws need to be passed outlawing aborting fetuses with non-lethal conditions, which will probably abort anyway.

Wait, I thought you said you were against anti-abortion laws... I'm confused. How can you oppose anti-abortion laws and support a law that would virtually illegalize all abortions?

If you are interested in passing laws to protect intersex children's rights, please see the "Intersex & Law" section of our website: We're working with a couple of lawyers on drafting legislation at Intersex Initiative along the line discussed on that page, and this summer we will have a law student intern to help with the project as well.

Explaining that I'm IS when I come out helps a lot in paving the way because people are already becoming more aware that intersex is a condition, not a choice, but aren't all that sure about tanssexualism yet.

Oh, I think intersex is a choice--unfortunately, it's not *my* choice, but someone else's.

Emi Koyama
Intersex Initiative