In March of this year, former president, Jimmy Carter, spoke out against sex-selective abortion on the David Letterman show. President Carter had been invited on the show to discuss the release of his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.” When Letterman broached the topic of the book, Carter’s first comments were about gendercide and sex selective abortion, which he identified as the worst statistic he knows of. The exact conversation went as follows:

Letterman: In the book “Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.” Um, tell us about women... Things are contained in this book that I was completely ignorant about and am stunned by what I know of what is covered here. What, what is the source of this, the abuse of women, essential slavery, human trafficking, on and on?

Carter: Well, it’s the worst human rights abuse on earth and it’s basically unaddressed. Um, I’ll start with the worst statistic that I know, and that is that 160 million girls are now missing from the face of the earth because they were murdered at birth by their parents or either selectively aborted when their parents find out that the fetus is a girl. So, that’s how many people are missing, and they’re all girls who are missing.

Letterman goes on to ask where this type of activity is generally going on and Carter says that some of the countries where it most often occurs in countries like China and India. The conversation then moves on to the problem of sex trafficking and slavery of young girls throughout the world. The pro-choice former president may have been surprised after his comments to receive a lot of attention from the pro-life media channels. Many reported that “Jimmy Carter calls sex-selective abortion the ‘worst human rights abuse on earth’ on Letterman Show,” but is that actually what he was referring to? Or was he responding to Letterman’s question about all the abuses against women being the worst human rights abuse on earth? While Carter is crystal clear on his stance against sex selective abortion, it’s not the only issue he addresses in the interview. He also spends time discussing various other offenses against women, including sex trafficking and slavery.

What is sex-selective abortion?

Sex-selective abortion is the practice of aborting a fetus based on its predicted sex. It’s most commonly done with female fetuses in countries where male children are more culturally valued than female children. And it’s a hotly debated issue at the moment. Some, like Carter, are adamantly against the act of sex-selective abortion and talk about the 160 million missing girls who were never born. On the other hand, there are others who say that talk of banning sex-selective abortion in the United States is just an attempt to limit and ban abortion in general.


Bazelon, E. (2014). New Study Exposes Sex-Selective Abortion Bans for What They Are: Just Another Way to Restrict Abortion. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from


Johnson, B. (2014). Jimmy Carter calls sex-selective abortion the ‘worst human rights abuse on earth’ on Letterman Show. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from

Laforet, J. (2014). The “Missing” Generation of Girls. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from

Sex-Selective Abortion. Retrieved Agust 6, 2014, from


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GENDERCIDE: "THE WORST STATISTIC" SAYS, FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER by UrbanSculpt Staff Writer Meghan Stone MSW, MEd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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