In early February Right Wing Watch reported on a bill in Arizona that would make it a felony for women from having abortions if the decision to terminate the pregnancy was based on race or sex. Yesterday, Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, allowing the biological father or the woman’s parents to sue abortion providers for damages if the doctor knowingly conducting the procedure on race or sex grounds:
Arizona is the first state in the nation to make sex- or race-selection abortions a crime.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into law House Bill 2443, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion based on the sex or race of the fetus.
Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said the only proof Montenegro offered was a magazine article on such practices in China and India.
The law allows the father of an aborted fetus – or, if the mother is a minor, the mother’s parents – to take legal action against the doctor or other health-care provider who performed the abortion. If convicted of the felony, physicians would face up to seven years in jail and the loss of their medical license.
The law is a result of a right-wing campaign to smear abortion providers, notably Planned Parenthood, for allegedly targeting women of color in order to commit “genocide” against the African American community. Anti-choice groups have launched billboard campaigns using images of black children and President Obama, publicized the discredited “documentary” Maafa 21, and organized “Freedom Rides” against abortion-rights.
Susan Cohen of the Guttmacher Institute explains how activists who want to take away women’s reproductive rights are twisting the facts about abortion in minority communities. As Cohen explains, African American women’s disproportionate lack of access to contraception and healthcare has led not only to higher rates of unintended pregnancies but also to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections:
These activists are exploiting and distorting the facts to serve their antiabortion agenda. They ignore the fundamental reason women have abortions and the underlying problem of racial and ethnic disparities across an array of health indicators. The truth is that behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy. This applies to all women—black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American alike. Not surprisingly, the variation in abortion rates across racial and ethnic groups relates directly to the variation in the unintended pregnancy rates across those same groups.
Black women are not alone in having disproportionately high unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. The abortion rate among Hispanic women, for example, although not as high as the rate among black women, is double the rate among whites. Hispanics also have a higher level of unintended pregnancy than white women. Black women’s unintended pregnancy rates are the highest of all. These higher unintended pregnancy rates reflect the particular difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively over long periods of time. Moreover, these realities must be seen in a larger context in which significant racial and ethnic disparities persist for a wide range of health outcomes, from diabetes to heart disease to breast and cervical cancer to sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV.