On Wednesday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a ban on abortions sought due to the sex of the child. Abortionists who violate the ban could be subject to fines as well as jail time.
Rep. Charlie Collins, the bill’s sponsor, said his idea was inspired partially by the disastrous effects of sex-selection abortions, primarily targeting girls, in countries such as China. In a 2011 article for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Therese Hesketh, M.D., Ph.D.; Li Lu, M.D., Ph.D.; and Zhu Wei Xing, M.D., MPH, explain:
For centuries, son preference has led to postnatal discrimination against girls; this has resulted in practices ranging from infanticide to neglect of health care and nutrition, often ending in premature mortality. But in the 1980s, ultrasound technology started to become available for diagnostic purposes in many Asian countries, and the opportunity to use the new technology for sex selection was soon exploited. In countries where there is a combination of son preference, a small-family culture and easy access to sex-selective technologies, very serious and unprecedented sex-ratio imbalances have emerged.
While abortion advocates have argued that “son preference” is not as common in Western nations as a means of dismissing the need for such a ban, this is not the point. Regardless of how prevalent a belief is, either it is healthy for society and the individuals in that society or it is not. The idea that it is acceptable to kill a preborn baby for being female, while sparing him if he happens to be male, is primitive, sexist, and otherwise problematic.
Pro-life groups praised the ban as a step forward for equal rights. “Arkansas’s governor and legislative leaders are to be commended for addressing the shocking problem of sex selection abortions which disproportionately target baby girls,” said Americans United for Life Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokesperson Ashley Wright conceded that gender discrimination is a problem but claimed that the ban “does nothing to address that issue.”
A past undercover Live Action investigation found Planned Parenthood employees in five states willing to help women obtain abortions solely because they stated they didn’t want their preborn babies due to the gender:
The ACLU has indicated intent to challenge the ban in court. The ban is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018.