The Arizona Senate signed off on a House-approved bill that bans abortions sought for sex-selection reasons or because the unborn child is of a certain race.
Although the practice is frequently seen in Asian nations like China, India and Vietnam, it has crossed the Pacific Ocean as Asian immigrants have come to the United States and brought with them their cultural preference for sons.
The legislation would ban sex-selection abortions and require women seeking abortions to sign a statement saying they are not obtaining the abortion because of the gender of the unborn baby. The bill also prohibits abortions based on the race of the unborn child. The father of the unborn child or the parents of a minor girl would be able to file a lawsuit for civil damages against abortion practitioners that do race-based or sex-selection abortions.
A majority of the Arizona House of Representatives agreed to those stipulations and voted for House Bill 2443 on a 41-18 vote.
The Senate, on Monday, added a provision to make it a felony to perform or provide financing for an abortion sought because of the race of the baby, the sex, or also the race of the parent. The House bill did not include the criminal penalties and only allowed a civil lawsuit and civil fines against abortion practitioners who did such abortions.
The Senate passed the bill 21-5 and now the House must vote to accept the changes the state Senate made. That is considered likely and then the measure will head to pro-life Gov. Jan Brewer, who has signed every pro-life measure on abortion she has received during her time as governor.
Sen. Don Shooter, a Republican, supported the measure and cited figures from the Frederick Douglass Foundation saying 30 percent of abortions are done on black women and children even though census figures show blacks make up a much lower percentage of the population.
Rep. Steve Montenegro, the sponsor of the bill, said, “No one should be subjected to abortion because they’re the wrong sex or race.” Montenegro pointed to a 2010 Economist magazine article on “gender-cide” that documented a bias against black babies and said many abortions on black babies are done because of the race of the child.
Sen. Linda Lopez, a Tucson Democrat, opposed the bill and called banning sex-selection and race-based abortions “offensive.”
Senate President Russell Pearce responded: “We have an obligation to protect the most innocent among us, the unborn. Whatever we can do to limit the number of deaths of these unborn children, I’m always a ‘yes’ vote.”
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona congressman, also supports the bill and has been pushing for similar legislation on the federal level. “Sex-selection abortion is a growing tragedy in our state,” he said in a letter Montenegro read to his colleagues.