Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Don't Like This Ad (Okay, Maybe Just a Little Bit)

Here’s an advertisment I came across today.

The small print at the bottom corner reads, “Don’t Abort The Girl Child”.

The advertisement’s pretty neatly designed and it gets the message across. I’m not guru on the subject of advertisement and I shall refrain from making any further comments on its style, color scheme etc, but suffice it to say I think all of that’s good. But... .

I have a problem with the advertisement on two issues. Well, it’s really just one issue when you think about it, but I’ll put it across as two. Sue me for that if you want.

1. By drawing a comparison with Kalpana’s brother -- who “runs a small business in Karnal” -- the advertisement assumes an extremely stereotypical (and in my opinion, wrong) definition of “success”. What is it trying to say? Does it imply that Kalpana was “more successful” than her brother? Or that I shouldn’t abort a female foetus BECAUSE it (she) may turn out to be an astronaut at NASA unlike its (her) brother who MAY only end up as a small scale businessman? That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

Let’s look at things objectively -- for argument’s sake. Are they trying to say that Kalpana Chawla’s life was “worth” more than her brother’s? Economists have their way of applying a value metric to human life, and according to their measure I believe Kalpana’s life may well have been worth more than Mr. Chawla’s is back home in Punjab. But again, that doesn’t prove anything. (At least, he’s still alive.)

2. More importantly, if abortion of the girl child (or any child for that matter) is wrong [1], then it is wrong for reasons based purely on principle and NOT because of what that child may or may not achieve. Assuming that the Chawla family could only raise one child of the two (I don’t know how many children they actually have, but it doesn’t matter) and assuming that Kalpana’s life is worth more than some unheard of businessman in Punjab, does that mean it would have been okay for them to abort the son in favor of the girl? (We’re also assuming they knew what each would end up as.) Probably not.

I guess at the end of the day, all the advertisement is trying to say is “Give your unborn daughters a shot at life because they’ve as much of a chance of flying into space (and then being done in by a faulty piece of foam) as your sons”. In that case, I just wasted a lot of breath over here. But what the heck! I had nothing better to write about today anyway.

[1]: I’m not saying that abortion is wrong -- that’s a matter that’s open to debate as far as I’m concerned, with strong, valid reasons both “for” and “against”. I’m saying IF it were wrong, THEN... .


KT said...

Your point no. 2 is supremely confusing. Please clarify it. I agree with pt 1 where you question the definition of success.

I always thought that you were pro choice. What are your points for anti abortion? Pray tell us.

Arnold said...

kt - I am pro-choice.. Does that mean allowing people to snuff out all female foeti that they are carrying/have sired if they choose?

One of the strongest points against abortion is deciding at what age does a parent's right to make life-related choices for their children stop. Pro-choice propopents who are in favor of abortion assume that this is at birth. Thus I can abort a foetus but can't murder a newborn baby. (Or are you okay with peacefully killing a 3-month old baby by lethal injection if I don't want to raise it? It is obviously too young to make its own choice at that age.)

Point 2 is trying to decide whether the decision for abortion can be made based on what you believe that child's life is going to be worth when it grows up?

KT said...

Dont create a straw man now :) I never claimed that the girl child should be killed.

foetuses arent humans. even if anti abortion (i wont call them pro life) activists say so.
Even from a logical perspective, i think abortion should be legal. refer to freakonomics.

Arnold said...

kt - Don't overuse the term "straw man"! Abortion is legal!

Your not believing that foeti are human is your personal choice/belief and I'll give you that. However, that doesn't mean that's the way it is.

Even with abortion being legal, people still have opinions of my own, and I've just written mine.

Rachel said...

Is there a huge problem in India with people aborting female fetuses? I have heard that is is rampant in China but not in India.
I don't believe that a baby has basic human rights at conception but I also don't believe that it is at birth.
I believe that basic human rights and that a fetus should be considered a human when the fetus is viable. If it has the chance to survive outside of the womb.
I am pro-choice as well

Arnold said...

rachel - Yes, it is a big problem in India as well. Consequently there's a problem with doctors revealing the sex of the foetus, since the parent may choose to abort if it's female...

Rajveer Sangha said...

you are very right in both your points arnold (if thats your 'real' name).
1). the point one is justified in a genral sense and questions the validity of success.
its important to note that we see kalpana chawla as media projected her after her death. she may have been there in nasa as a mere 'nut-bolt mechanic', but media would portray her as a hero. while this brother of her maybe an extremely respected man with a nice family and living a happy life.
now who is more successful here?
success is just being able to rise with a genuine smile everyday, doesnt matter if you're a mere grocer
2. I don't see why KT has a problem with this one. girl killing is hardly a matter or a child's 'worth'. most punjabi parents would prefer an unsuccessful lazy son than a successful girl. its more to do with traditions and social setup than any notion of 'value'
keep bloggin :)

Ingrid said...

Great blog Arnold!
it really gives us something to think about....

maneesh said...

I didnt like the ad at all.. I completely agree with the first point u made.... , Are they trying to say that Kalpana Chawla’s life was “worth” more than her brother’s?

my thoughts exactly.. well put

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