Abortion Race Reproductive Rights

Activists Challenge Arizona Sex and Race-Selective Abortion Law

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the Maricopa County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are challenging a 2011 Arizona anti-abortion law which requires women’s reproductive healthcare providers to racially profile Asian and African-American women seeking to terminate their pregnancies in the name of eliminating sex and race-selective abortion.

via Gage Skidmore / flickr.com

San Francisco’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday from both groups, who charged that the bill “targets and stigmatizes Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and is based entirely on racially motivated stereotypes and generalizations about Black and AAPI women’s reasons for deciding to terminate a pregnancy.” According to the law, abortion providers must complete an affidavit stating they have no knowledge that the fetus is being aborted because of its sex or race or face civil action.

The appeal is in response to the district court’s dismissal of the discrimination case in 2013, which ruled that the groups lacked standing to challenge the law. The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of NAPAWF and the local NAACP chapter, argued that “racial stigma and intentional discrimination resulting from the law causes sufficient harm to warrant standing.”

During debate on the bill, legislators purported that because “African-American babies are now aborted at five times the rate of White babies to the point that nearly 50 percent of Black babies are aborted,” Black women are getting abortions because of racial bias.

Despite statistics demonstrating no discrepancy in gender ratios of births by Asian-American women compared to those of other races statewide, anti-choice lawmakers argue Asian-American women are more inclined to abort fetuses based on gender.

According to Republican state Senator Rick Murphy, racial profiling is necessary to curtail a non-existent social problem. “We know that people from those countries and from those cultures are moving and immigrating in some reasonable numbers to the United States and Arizona,” said Murphy. “And so with that in mind, why in good conscience would we want to wait until the problem does develop and bad things are happening and then react when we can be proactive and try to prevent the problem from happening in the first place?”

Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, dismissed the Arizona law as having “no basis in fact,” suggesting it is yet another attempt to restrict women’s right to abortion via dangerous TRAP legislation.

“The ban would not protect girls – or women,” said Yeung. “This ban is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and part of a broader strategy to chip away at a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.”

Media Resources: NAPAWF Press Release 12/9/15; AsAmNews 12/8/2015; RH Reality Check 12/9/2015; Huffington Post 12/4/15

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