On March 29, 2011, Arizona became the first state to make abortions based on sex or race a felony, but a major discussion point is that there does not seem to be any evidence that these banned “selective abortions” are actually happening.
Most abortions take place before doctors can determine the sex of a fetus. As for race, Republican lawmakers argued the law was needed because a large percentage of abortions are sought by minority women, implying that minority women abort fetuses due to their race. That’s some serious twisting of logic. The higher number of abortions among minorities probably has much to do low access to birth control or a higher rate of poverty.
So what’s the real motivation for the law? Opponents argue the intention is to create obstacles for minorities seeking abortion. And by creating categories of criminalized abortions, all Arizona women might now have to justify their abortions. It also gives rights to a fetus which opens the door for criminalizing abortion in general. A statement from the governor’s spokesperson on the law suggests that’s the goal, “Governor Brewer believes society has the responsibility to protect its most vulnerable, the unborn.”
What do we make of the new law? Do we want a law like this to come to New York?
While minorities may have high rates of aborting fetuses, it is discomforting to see a law like this enacted. This law may make women question having an abortion more than they would have without the law, but that may not be the goal we want. As more and more obstacles stand in the way of a woman getting an abortion, it becomes more and more emotionally scarring for the woman. These obstacles will make women in Arizona have to justify the reason they are seeking an abortion, and they will have to prove that it is not because of the race or sex of the fetus.
Put simply, we don’t provide economic opportunities for the disadvantaged at the levels we should. They have abortions because they cannot afford to have a child which is an amazingly responsible thing to do. The new Arizona law seems like a thinly veiled attempt at opening the door to making abortion illegal altogether. What do you think?