On Tuesday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit abortion based on the race or gender of the unborn child. Under the bill, doctors or other practitioners would be fined if it could be proved that they had performed an abortion, knowing that it was being requested solely on the basis of the fetus’ race or sex.
The bill’s proponents insisted that such legislation was necessary because mothers did not want female or minority babies; it was designed, its sponsor said, to “put an end to offensive and abhorrent practices which have no place in an egalitarian, multi-cultural society.”
Its opponents called it a bill “in search of a problem,” saying that these forms of abortion were not a prevalent issue (in fact, most abortions take place before the sex can be detected). And others pointed out the fact that the data that was being used to support the bill was biased because it did not acknowledge the myriad other factors that play into the decision to have an abortion.
“Right now in America, unfortunately, the African-American community and other minority communities have more unintended pregnancies because of factors we are ignoring today,” explained one Democrat. Republicans responded by saying that Democrats were not interested in “protecting” the “minority community.”
As Irin Carmon points out in a piece for Jezebel, the disturbing part of this legislation is that women would have to justify to their doctors why they wanted abortions. In all likelihood, the women who would be most affected by the assumption that they were requesting an abortion because of race or sex-selection would be women of color, despite the fact that there are an enormous number of variables playing into a woman’s decision to have an abortion, none of which she should have to defend to her doctor, especially if the doctor is worried about getting fined.
As usual, the Republicans’ “concern” over this issue is just a thinly veiled attempt to restrict abortion further. So let’s hope that the Arizona State Senate throws out this insincere attempt to “protect” minorities by curtailing women’s rights.
Photo from alexandralee.