Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Arizona's Over-Reaching Anti-Abortion Law...

Abortion foes have made a hard push this year, coordinating extreme legislative attempts with highly deceptive sting videos to try and prevent a medical procedure that is in some instances necessary but more importantly, legal.  In Arizona, lawmakers have decided to take it a step further and made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion if the mother has the abotion as a method of sex or race selection.

Alia Beard Rau wrote the following for The Arizona Republic:
Republican supporters have said that statistics show a high percentage of abortions are being sought by minority women and that abortion clinics intentionally locate in minority areas. They say statistics show that some populations are increasingly seeking abortions based on the fetus' sex. Democrats argue that statistics show that neither is occurring.

"This legislation really is needed," said Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix. "Sex-selection abortions are happening in this country, and it is time we address it head-on."

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, called HB 2443 "one of the most offensive, odious pieces of legislation I have ever seen."

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said statistics show that there are slightly more female births in the U.S. than male births, indicating that there is not a systematic practice of aborting females.

"Gendercide is indeed a very real issue in China and India, but it is not an issue in the United States," Sinema said. "This legislation spreads myths that are untrue, and the implication that women make decisions based on these motives in our country is offensive."
Republicans supporters pointed to "statistics" as a reason why the legislation was needed, but as Titania Kumeh wrote for her article on Mother Jones, the Republican mention of "statistics" is meaningless and without merit.
Preventing race- and gender-based abortion seems like a no-brainer, right? But how real a problem is it?

There hasn't been much research on this. In one 2008 study, researchers at Columbia University using 2000 US Census data found that second and third births in Chinese, Korean and Indian families living in the US were skewed toward boys. If the first child was a girl, the researchers reported, the second child was more likely to be a boy. If the couple had two girls, the third child was even more likely to be a boy. In white families, the researchers found only a small variance from the expected gender ratios.

The Columbia study stops short of attributing these variations to abortion. Couples doing IVF, for instance, can select the sex of an embryo prior to implanting it. In any case, the number of Asian girls born in the US is on the rise, and Asian American women make up a relatively small proportion (less than 9 percent) of women having abortions in the US. What's more, the Arizona Capitol Times points out that 92 percent of abortions in Arizona occurred before 13 weeks of pregnancy, whereas women can't generally learn the gender of a fetus until week 17.

Not that Montenegro would care. His agenda seems to be more in line with anti-choice rhetoric than any real concern about Asian fetuses. He told Capitol Media Services, for instance, that he had information "that there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets," and that more females are aborted than males. 

In fact, 63 percent of abortion clinics in America are located in predominantly white neighborhoods, according to a January report by the Guttmacher Institute (PDF). Fewer than 1 in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominately African American neighborhoods (the same neighborhoods anti-choicers claim are being "targeted"). About as many percent are located in predominately Latino neighborhoods, and 1 percent are in neighborhoods where most of the residents are deemed "non-Hispanic others."
Also, the portion about performing an abortion because of race is interesting.  While African-American and Hispanic women are more likely to have an abortion then non-Hispanic white women, to specifically outlaw abortions based on race selection seems highly intrusive to the the doctor-patient relationship.  I am not for abortion, and in particular racial-engingeering abortion, but by relation, if using abortion as a method of child selection is illegal, then so should invitro fertilization or even traditional methods of child creation, such as sexual intercourse.  There should even be an ellimination of racial information at sperm banks and a requirement that everybody - not just women - wear full-body burqas to prevent someone from making a racially-motivated selection of a mate, because after all, you are allowing people to engineer their child based on personal preferences, and Republicans believe it is the government's place to prevent such discrimination from occurring.

I would even go as far as to question the constitutionality of such a law, as how can such a determination - whether a doctor were to commit such a felony - be determined?

After all, the race of the child would be known by the mother (presumably), and if the sex was consensual, then the consequences of intercourse (pregnancy) would be known and the reason behind the abortion would probably be more then just race, such as economic or marital status.

Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post summed it up pretty good:
Basically, HB 2443 is rooted in the brand-new varietal of anti-Planned Parenthood paranoia, in which the organization stands accused of culpability in a massive scheme to commit in-utero genocide of black children. As in other recent cases of abortion law fearmongering -- such as the South Dakota law that imagined an epidemic of women being assaulted for the purpose of causing an abortion (and the presumed absence of laws that already made such assaults illegal in the first place) -- supporters of this bill cannot actually point to such an epidemic that's actually happening. But they try their best, all the same!

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