Arkansas House lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday to protect babies in the womb from discriminatory sex-selection abortions.
Sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Collins, Arkansas House Bill 1434 would make it illegal for abortion practitioners to knowingly abort an unborn child if the woman is doing so based solely on the child’s sex.
The bill passed with very strong support in a 79-3 vote, Arkansas Online reports. It moves to the state Senate for consideration.
“The bottom line is it’s just the right thing to do to have this in the law,” Collins said.
However, Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains lobbyist Ashley Wright blasted the bill, claiming it is not really about preventing gender discrimination.
“It places the doctor in a position of being an investigator and the woman a suspect,” she told Arkansas Online.
The state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union also is threatening to sue if the bill becomes law.
Here is more from Fox 47 News:
The bill states that allowing these abortions is undesirable because women are a vital part of society, and that “countries with high rates of male preference have experienced ill effects as a result of having a increasing population of young, unmarried men.”
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Sexual discrimination is illegal in the United States in many areas, including employment, education, athletics, and health insurance. If passed, the bill would expand the sexual discrimination protection to unborn children.
The bill also states that sex-selection abortions are more dangerous for women, because the procedures are performed later in the pregnancy after the woman learns the sex of her child. It cites that women are 35 times more likely to die from an abortion that is performed at 20 weeks than during the first trimester. Women are 91 times more likely to die at 21 weeks or greater.
The bill would require doctors to make a reasonable effort to obtain medical records and information related to the pregnancy to help determine if sex-selection is the reason for the abortion. Abortion practitioners who violate the measure could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, according to the report.
Seven other states already have laws in place that protect unborn babies from discriminatory sex-selection abortions. If passed, the legislation would make Arkansas the eighth, according to the Associated Press.
Sex-selection abortions have become a major problem across the world. Girls in the womb especially are targets of this deadly form of discrimination. As a result, some countries have unnaturally high ratios of men to women.
In China, for example, the birth ratio was 115.88 boys to 100 girls in 2014, according to research by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
The research group said there is evidence that sex-selection abortions are happening in the U.S., too.
“One major study that analyzed U.S. Census data from 2000 found that third births in families of foreign-born Chinese, Indians, and Koreans in the U.S. who already had two daughters displayed a ratio of 151 boys to 100 girls—an extreme male-biased ratio,” according to the research group.
A 2012 poll conducted by the Lozier Institute found that 77 percent of Americans support the enactment of laws prohibiting abortions in cases where “the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.”