The American Civil Liberties Union slammed an Arkansas bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortions this week, claiming the measure is unconstitutional.
The Gurdon Times reports a House committee passed the bill, state House Bill 1434, on Thursday. The bill moves to the full state House for consideration.
Sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Collins, the bill would make it illegal for abortion practitioners to knowingly abort an unborn child if the woman is doing so based solely on the child’s sex.
ACLU Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar blasted the bill as an intrusion into what she said should be a woman’s private decision. She also claimed the bill is unconstitutional.
“Any legislation that bans abortion before the point of viability is unconstitutional, plain and simple,” Sklar said. “There is very good potential for litigation because of this burden on women obtaining abortions that they want for whatever reason.”
Seven other states already have laws in place that protect unborn babies from discriminatory sex-selection abortions. If passed, the legislation would make Arkansas the eighth, according to the Associated Press.
The Times has more details about the bill:
Under the bill, before a doctor could perform an abortion he or she would be required to ask the woman if she knows the sex of her unborn child. If the woman answers that she does, the doctor would be required to request the woman’s medical records relating to her pregnancy.
The doctor would be prohibited from performing an abortion on the woman until “reasonable time and effort” has been spent to obtain the records.
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A doctor who performs an abortion on a woman despite knowing that she is seeking an abortion solely because of the sex of the unborn child would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
A doctor who violates the measure could be punished with jail time, monetary fines or license suspension or revocation, according to the report.
The Arkansas affiliate of Planned Parenthood also complained about the bill to the AP. The abortion group has opposed similar sex-selection abortion bans in the past.
“We can all agree that gender discrimination is a problem. This bill however does nothing to address that issue or actually solve that problem,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokesperson Ashley Wright said. “These laws would interfere with open, honest communication between doctors and patients.”
Sex-selection abortions have become a major problem across the world. Girls in the womb especially are targets of this deadly form of discrimination. As a result, some countries have unnaturally high ratios of men to women.
In China, for example, the ratio of boys to girls at birth was 115.88 boys to 100 girls in 2014, according to research by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
The research group said there is evidence that sex-selection abortions may be happening in the U.S., too.
“One major study that analyzed U.S. Census data from 2000 found that third births in families of foreign-born Chinese, Indians, and Koreans in the U.S. who already had two daughters displayed a ratio of 151 boys to 100 girls—an extreme male-biased ratio,” according to the research group.
A 2012 poll conducted by the Lozier Institute found that 77 percent of Americans support the enactment of laws prohibiting abortions in cases where “the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.”