South Dakota’s Ugly New Law Based on Racial Stereotypes About Asian Immigrants

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

This week, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) approved an unnecessary abortion restriction that reinforces racial stereotypes about the Asian American community. House Bill 1162 bans abortions based on a fetus’ sex and makes it a felony for doctors to perform this type of “sex-selective” procedure, based on the misperception that Asian women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy if they find out the fetus is a girl.

The lawmakers who push sex-selective abortion bans typically claim that it’s an important policy to preserve gender equality. And during the debate over HB 1162 in South Dakota, elected officials were particularly candid about the racial implications. As Mother Jones reported last month, Republican lawmakers in the state were very clear about their position that the bill was necessary because of South Dakota’s population of Asian immigrants.

“Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was,” one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Don Haggar, said to explain his support for HB 1162. “There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state. And I think that’s a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it’s also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex.”

In fact, this type of legislation is a solution in search of a problem. While female infanticide is an issue in some parts of the world, there’s absolutely no evidence that the Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals who live here in the U.S. are having abortions based on gender. There is no epidemic of sex-selective abortion among the AAPI community, and passing legislation to “fix” this nonexistent issue simply ends up damaging women of color. Ultimately, these laws scrutinize Asian American women based solely on their race.

“South Dakota’s governor has signed a purposefully misleading bill that undermines our health as women and discriminates against us as Asian Americans,” Miriam Yeung, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, explained in a statement. “Our community has made it clear we don’t support these misleading, stigmatizing bans that hurt us and only serve to exacerbate the health disparities we already face. Nearly 2,000 women and men from South Dakota and around the country signed a petition condemning the racist legislation.”

Yeung’s organization has been standing up against sex-selective abortion bans for years. But, thanks to draft legislation on the issue written by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, over 60 sex-selective bills have been introduced at the state and federal level since 2009. Aside from South Dakota, seven other states have passed this policy into law.

Nearly 92 percent of all abortions take place before the fetus’ sex can even be determined. Abortion providers have warned that they have no idea how to enforce this type of sex-selective ban in practice.

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Amy L.
Amy L4 years ago

Sex-selective abortion is a huge disasterous problem in India and China and some other Asian Countries. Here is an article based on the 2011 census in India. For those that are really interested I've posted links to some good information for good sources.

Another interesting article talks about sex selective abortions and what that means to a country now and long term. There is a direct correlation between an overabundance of males and violence. This one includes China.

The campaign to kill off women and baby girls has been successful and has surpassed the murder victims of the holocaust.

India's 60 million women that never were
60 million women - that's nearly the entire population of the United Kingdom - are missing in India. Why?

Missing: 163 Million Women
Ever wonder what happens when societies favor boys over girls?

I don't agree with really anything the Republican party wants to do but I like the fact that they want to put on the books that sex selective abortion is illegal in the US. I support that 100%.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F4 years ago

hate hasn't solved anything yet...

Kevin W.
Kevin W4 years ago

If you don't like abortion, don't have one. If someone else elects to have one it's none of your damn business unless your the child's father. Period !!

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

Tony....millions of us reject that ''soul'' idea! It's just another way religion seeks to separate humanity from the other animals on the planet.

Tony C.
Tony C4 years ago

I can not conceive of the anguish a girl or women goes through when she decides to have an abortion. I don't believe that God wants a girl or women who has been raped to have a child of a rapist or of incest or medical complications or others to have a baby UNLESS she wants to. (HER CHOICE) It is a proven fact that SEX EDUCATION can help prevent abortions through knowledge so that women don’t get pregnant or sexually transmitted diseases that can KILL your child.
As some of you believe that life begins at conception, then you must believe that they have a soul. If a women has a miscarriage what happens to that soul? Do you think that God is so petty that aborted souls are not put back into the bodies of women that can LOVE and take care of them.
Listen up people. God did not write the Bible, men wrote the Bible and put in or took out words that would keep them in power. What happened to the other apostles. All I hear about are gospels from Matthew,Mark, Luke and John. Were there not 12? Is it not possible that some of the words that these 8 wrote contradicted these 4 and were left out. God and Jesus are all about LOVE. How dare anyone tell a woman what she can do with her own body.

Sandra Rocha
Sandra Rocha4 years ago

the problem of abortion is all over the world, not only for asians

Joan M.
4 years ago

Thanks for sharing