Over the past several years, anti-abortion lawmakers have been using a variety of legislative tactics to throw legal barriers in front of abortion access; their goal being to make abortion so difficult, bureaucratic and harrowing a process as to render it a completely impractical option for most women seeking reproductive care. From proposing a host of manipulative restrictions or bans (such as fetal heartbeat bills) or attacking clinic buffer zones designed to protect patients from the harassment of street protesters, the new war on Roe is being waged incrementally. Abortion opponents no longer seek to overturn Roe in one fell swoop, but instead hope to give Roe a death by a thousand papercuts.
One recent tactic in vogue among Republican anti-abortion lawmakers is to seek to pass a new kind of anti-abortion bill: one so racist and sexist as to demand outcry from Asian American advocacy groups. In the last few years, these anti-choice legislators have put forward over 60 bills in various states, seeking to outlaw sex-selective abortion: abortions purportedly conducted based on the fetus’ sex and specifically to select for male children. The rationale for these bans is that because sex-selective abortions are allegedly widely practiced in countries like China and India (a recent study suggests they are not — male-biased sex ratios are found throughout the world including in White-majority countries, and surveys reveal no universally stated preference for male children over female children in Asian countries), and because Asian Americans are among the fastest growing racial population in the country, that sex-selective abortion bans are necessary to prevent Asian and Asian American women from essentially bringing sex-selective abortion practices to the states.
I heard you won a pretty big court case today, one that established your constitutional right as a corporate conglomerate-person to infringe on my rights as an actual person-person. I heard you congratulating yourselves in what you dubbed a major blow in defense of the free practice of your religion (centered around cheaper healthcare costs?) and free expression of your political beliefs (centered around being a jerk?), both of which apparently involve limiting the reproductive rights of the women who work for (within?) you.
Well, I have the freedom of expression, too. And, I think this decision is stupid.
Last year, nearly 500 restrictions on abortion and reproductive choice were proposed at the state level nation-wide. Among those abortion restrictions were bans on sex-selective abortion; bans that have now passed in eight states — Arizona, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Kansas and North Carolina.
Advanced by Republican pro-life legislators, the ban on sex-selective abortions cite concerns that appear superficially feminist: to protect the “unborn” from gender discrimination prior to birth. Further, these bans are based on the assertion that male-biased birth ratios are evidence of sex-selective abortion; that these male-biased birth ratios are only found in India and China; that these male-biased birth ratios are evidence of sex-selective abortion occurring in the United States; that the growing influx of Asian women immigrants from India and China means sex-selective abortion is occurring here; and that the U.S. is one of the few remaining countries in the world that has yet to ban sex-selective abortion. As I wrote about last year, these are the kinds of arguments that are being expressed on the floor of state legislatures, and they are succeeding in restricting reproductive rights for women living in those states.
Yet, closer examination of the arguments of Republican legislators reveals that it is predominantly unfounded and wholly racist anti-Asian stereotypes — not facts — that serve as the principle justification for these recent restrictions on sex-selective abortions.
Citing experience gained from their travels overseas, Republican lawmakers say that Asians culturally prefer male children over female children. They then cited twostudies that supposedly argue that the likelihood of East Asian families having a male child increases after having two girls, which the authors argue of at least one of these studies suggest may be evidence of pre-natal sex-selection. Then, they cite the US Census showing that South Dakota has a growing Asian population constituting 1.1% of the state in 2012.
Finally, in their logical piece de resistance: they argue that all women seeking an abortion in South Dakota last year who marked “Other” were Asian, and thus were seeking an abortion based on the sex of the fetus.