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Sex-Selection Abortion Bans: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

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March 21, 2014

In 2012, Congress failed to pass the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which would ban sex, and race based abortions. Shrouded in faux feminism and blatant Asian Pacific Island (API) discrimination, officially 8 states now allow for these laws. Doctors are now investigators and patients are now suspects, especially API women. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum calls South Dakota’s recent passage of HD 1162, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Supporters of South Dakota’s bill called opponents hypocritical for not supporting a bill that incites “gender violence.” Let’s be clear here. This is the first time some of these lawmakers have given two shits about women. It clearly reflects in their Congressional demographic. It’s upsetting that politicians want to use feminism and women’s rights to drive a wedge between abortion supporters when they’re normally the same lawmakers denying women access to abortions.

State Representative Stace Nelson of South Dakota says, “The rest of the world does not value the lives of women as much as I value the lives of my daughters.” They want to talk about their daughters and wives, but not about the women of color who seek abortions not based on racist stereotypes. Any API woman walking through the doctor’s office is now a suspect to be targeted. During the congressional debates, it seemed quite obvious that South Dakota supporters of HD 1162 failed to cite any evidence of women performing these sex-selective abortions.

Peggy Gibson, an opponent of the bill explains, “I did not hear the sponsor of the bill give one iota of evidence that a [sex-selective] abortion has taken place in South Dakota…this bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” With a law impossible to enforce and a problem not there, only the racist body policing is left standing.

Inevitably, for many individuals and cultures, men are preferred over women, but instead of targeting API women in United States, why are we not challenging why men are preferred? These bills are xenophobic and are filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric. API women are considered perpetual foreigners who are perceived to be incapable of detaching policies in their home country to their new lives in the U.S. You know, because Asian Americans don’t exist and all API women were just shipped here fresh off the boat?

Dan Haggar indicates, “There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortions as being culturally okay.” Stop tiptoeing around the word “culture” and call it like it is. You’re talking about Asians.  The bill targets Asians because of racist stereotypes attached to API folks.

Luckily, the API community isn’t silent. Arizona passed a similar law a couple months back and the ACLU of Arizona partnered with NAPAWF have filed a lawsuit challenging these racist laws. This is a slow process, but since some of these states have only a few abortion providers even offered, these laws restrict access even more. Anti-choice groups are finding any reason to chip away at Roe v. Wade and limiting options any way they can, even at the expense of perpetuating racist stereotypes. South Dakota is the latest state to pass these laws, but let Governor Daugaard know that these bills are racist. The API community is under attack and has even more limited access to abortion access as women of color. We can’t allow for these racist trends to continue because who knows who could be next.

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