Why Does South Dakota Think They Need an Anti-Abortion Bill Aimed at Asian Women?

BlogHer Original Post

The South Dakota House has passed an anti-abortion bill that's supposed to protect against sex-selective abortions, but based on racial stereotypes about Asian women. Republican supporters of the bill cited the state's growing Asian population (up to a whopping 1.1%, as of the 2012 Census) and their observations while serving overseas in the military as reasons the law is needed.

Image Credit: samirluther, via Flickr

Jenn, who blogs at Reappropriate, explains how these assumptions about Asian women are based on racial bias, not data:

So, obviously there are a few things wrong with this line of thinking. First of all, while sex-based abortion and other forms of post-natal rejection of female babies can be observed in places like China, it’s unclear even in these Asian countries exactly what practices contribute to the clear skewing of the adult population towards the male gender, and further how much those situations are exacerbated by restrictive reproductive policies and economic depression. Certainly, recent announcements of the relaxation of the One Child Policy due in part to its impact on the reduced birth of female children in China are predicted to significantly improve survival for female offspring, evidence that Chinese mothers are not culturally predisposed towards aborting female fetuses. Thus, while it’s clear that families in some Asian cultures prioritize care for male children over females and that this can reduce survival for girls when families have reduced access to economic resources due to poverty or politics , it’s faulty to assume that skewed gender ratios in Asian countries are direct evidence of uncontrolled sex-based abortion.

I wish I could this is just some wacky, isolated idea, but it's not the first time a state has based restrictions to reproductive rights on such racist assumptions. In 2012, Arizona lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill aimed at Asians.

For more about the latest bill, read the post South Dakota: We need to ban sex-selective abortions because of Asians at Reappropriate.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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