Speaking of Women's Rights: 02/16

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This is NOT how to fight gender inequality.

By Janet Chung

Some people think that outlawing abortions for parents who don’t want a child of a particular gender would be a good way for Washington State to show it won’t stand for sex discrimination in any form. As one advocate put it, sex-selection abortion is equitable to women being “discriminated against in the womb.”

But that actually isn’t the case.

Don’t get me wrong: Legal Voice condemns the practice of “son preference”—preferring sons to daughters—in all its forms. But an abortion ban like the one currently being considered by the Washington State Senate is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a solution to a problem that does not exist in this state—nor the rest of the United States—and perpetuates ugly stereotypes against Asian Americans.

The bill would charge physicians with criminal and civil liability and the possibility of losing their medical license. Threatening doctors and asking them to police their patients creates a disincentive to the honest, open communications between providers and patients that are essential to ensuring appropriate patient centered-care.

And the targets are women in a community that already faces barriers to health care, including language and cultural barriers, lack of insurance, and poverty. Washington has seen a 55% increase in its Asian American population since 2000. Asian American and Pacific Islander women need more access to safe, comprehensive reproductive health care—not less.

Proponents of sex-selection abortion bans say that they’re standing up for women and girls, but this is not the way to address gender inequality. As I told the Senate Law & Justice Committee yesterday, you can’t give women rights by taking away their rights. This bill will set a dangerous precedent and lead to even more restrictions on access to safe, legal reproductive care for all women.

Take action against this bill by urging the Senate Law & Justice Committee to vote "NO" on SB 6612!