Comments made by Taiwanese Netflix star Mike He made in a 2020 interview have surfaced causing a backlash online.
The 37-year-old father of two said he would make his partner get an abortion if she became pregnant with a girl.
According to a recent news article, Mike He said “he would be looking into certain practices while hoping that the gender* of his third child would be male”.
"Nowadays, it seems like you can determine the baby's gender at about seven to eight weeks, I want to be sure that it's a boy before giving birth. Otherwise, I think two daughters is enough.”
The interviewer then reportedly asked him whether or not he would be keeping the baby if his wife's third pregnancy revealed that she was carrying a girl and he replied that he "probably would not want to" if it turned out to be a girl.
Much of the outrage came from the Chinese site “Weibo,” a site equivalent to Twitter with many focusing on the suggestion that Mike He would try to control what his wife does with her own body.
The actor has since apologised for his remarks, stating that girls and boys are equal.
Too many times though, we have seen stories of women being coerced into abortions from men who don’t want a child, with little to no pushback from society.
The reality is that women often face some sort of financial or emotional pressure to abort – frequently by their partners. Sadly, many even face violence (the relationship between abortion and intimate partner violence is well established). It can be extremely difficult for women to resist overt or implied pressure from a partner to abort a baby in such circumstances, despite what her own preferences might be.
In the case of Mike He’s comments, abortion coercion is also tied in with the practice of sex-selective abortion, which threatens the lives of millions of women and girls around the world, with devastating effects on the ratios of boys to girls being born in some cultures.
A 2020 UN Population Fund report found that “The preference for sons over daughters may be so pronounced in some societies that couples will go to great lengths to avoid giving birth to a girl or will fail to care for the health and well-being of a daughter they already have in favour of their son.”
It appears this dangerous preference is not limited to overseas, with Australian studies finding that parents born in countries where male children are preferred still have more sons than the average.
If the normalisation of sex-selective abortions continues, the world will miss out on 4.7 million women and girls by the year 2030, with more than 22 million missing girls by the year 2100.
The practice of sex-selective abortion must be abolished, if we are to begin to address the discrimination that women and girls can be subject to, in this case even before they are born. A practical first step in Australia would be to ensure that sex-selective abortions do not receive Medicare funding. Australian taxpayers should not be paying for abortions that discriminate on the basis of sex.
*The article quoted makes reference to “gender”, but we understand them to be referring to biological sex.