Abortion

South Dakota House Passes Pointless Ban on Sex Selective Abortions

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||| Bethany Ann Khan/Flickr
Bethany Ann Khan/Flickr

Despite having absolutely zero evidence that sex-selective abortions are a problem in South Dakota, state legislators are trying to pass a bill banning such procedures. The measure (House Bill 1162) was approved by the Republican-controlled House last week by a vote of 60 to 10. 

Sex selective abortion (also referred to as "gender-based abortion") is the practice of terminating a pregnancy because of a fetus' predicted sex. It's common in places such as China and India, where male offspring are more highly prized than females.

Obviously, the sex selective abortion rate in America is hard to track, since women seeking abortions aren't required to provide a reason why they want to terminate their pregnancies. But based on the sex ratios of babies born here, the practice seems to be rare.

That's not to say it doesn't happen. But—at the risk of sounding like a sociopath—so what? A woman's reproductive rights aren't invalidated just because we may not like her motivations. Women terminate pregnancies for all sorts of reasons—economic hardship, medical conditions, simply not desiring to have a child. And, perhaps, to try again for a more preferred sex next time. Who are government officials to say which reasons are valid and which are not?

The whole thing reeks of thought policing: You can have an abortion, but only if we deem your attitudes toward it appropriate. I've never been a fan of rape exceptions for the same reason. Either abortion (up to whatever point) is legal, or it isn't. The business of why shouldn't come into play. If sex selective abortions were so common as to create widescale gender imbalance, perhaps the issue might warrant attention (perhaps). But that is nowhere near the case in the United States.

South Dakota's potential gender-based abortion ban is a solution in search of a problem. Here's the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Jenna Haggar, when asked in a hearing last Wednesday whether gender-based abortions actually happen in South Dakota.

REP. JENNA HAGGAR: "Yes, as of right now, if a woman were to walk into an abortion clinic and say, 'I would like to have an abortion for no other reason than my unborn baby is a girl'…she absolutely would get an abortion."

REP. TROY HEINERT: "Do you have an instance of where that occurred?"

HAGGAR: "What I know is that abortions up to 14 weeks right now are currently legal, so yes, I do believe that occurs."

HEINERT: "I guess that proves to me that is based on assumption…The prime sponsor just said that she believes it happens, but can't prove that it happens.

Haggar was undeterred, pointing out that international data "consistently (show) higher ratios of males over females…particularly in certain Asian countries." But since when do we set American policy based on what people are doing in Asian countries? Quick, somebody draft legislation banning betel leaf! 

South Dakota wouldn't be the first state to pass a bill banning sex selective abortion. Seven states (Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma) have already done so, and the issue was brought before the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. But the laws are—at best—little more than a feel-good circle-jerking opportunity for legislators (and at worst a time-wasting ploy to paint opponents as promoting a war on little girls). Because women aren't required to state why they want an abortion in order to get one, gender-based abortion bans accomplish effectively nothing.

And even if women were forced to justify their reasons for terminating a pregnancy (under the South Dakota law, physicians would be required to ask those seeking abortions whether they're doing it because of the sex of the fetus), what's to stop them from simply concealing their true motivation? Do we start outfitting Planned Parenthood clinics with lie detectors? As Ed Kilgore wrote at Washington Monthly: "Proponents of this kind of legislation must think Asians are not only misogynist, but too stupid to come up with another reason for seeking an otherwise entirely legal abortion." 

Unfortunately, it's all too easy for politicians to drum up hysteria and support for these types of pointless abortion restrictions. I'm glad to see at least some South Dakota politicans pushing back against the legislation.

"I think everybody in this room knows where everybody stands when it comes to this issue. I don't think anyone is 'pro abortion,'" Rep. Heinert said at last Wednesday's hearing. "My point is it takes courage to stand up and say, 'This law is unneeded.' If this was happening in South Dakota, then bring it. Show me some instances where this happened…but it takes courage to say, 'This is an unneeded law, it's unneeded regulation.'"

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  1. I have to admit being pretty fucking impressed by that last quote.

  2. let’s ban something that shows no sign of existence…really? However, you do have to admire the party’s repeated ability to tolerate so many foot shots.

    1. A bunch of states banned remote-controlled hunting with no evidence it existed. Sex-selective abortions are 10s of millions of times more common.

      1. tens of millions? I’m not suggesting one has never happened but how do you prove it? Let’s just criminalize everything.

        1. 160 million in Asia according to Wikipedia.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…..e_abortion

          I’ll stick with my lower guess estimate of “10s of millions”

          Let’s just criminalize everything.

          I’d prefer we just criminalize malum in se acts.

          1. There’s a South Dakota in Asia now?

            1. With open borders, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an Asia in South Dakota.

      2. Sex-selective abortions are 10s of millions of times more common.

        Not in America.

        Not that I have a problem. If I had a child, I would want total power over what it is.

        1. I would want total power over what it is.

          Yes mommy dearest

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc

  3. Wow, I’m actually surprised this time. That you guys can call them “stupid” for this; do you guys haveno souls? Isn’t the idea of aborting a kid just because he isn’t the sex you wanted at leasta little disturbing?

    This is bothersome the same way the abort-only-one-twin thing is

    1. I’m pro-life and I agree with her. Either abortion should be illegal or it shouldn’t. If the fetus has no rights it’s irrelevant why the mother wants an abortion.

      1. Yes

        Aborting a child because of her sex is no more wrong than any other reason (other than survival)

        1. Yes, and additionally:

          If sex selective abortions were so common as to create widescale gender imbalance, perhaps the issue might warrant attention (perhaps). But that is nowhere near the case in the United States.

          No perhaps about it. If that would bother you, then perhaps you need to evaluate why it bothers you when it’s an apparent simple medical procedure.

          1. I disagree. I can see someone being upset about sex selective abortion as an indicator of a culture that does not value girls (or boys) while thinking that abortion for other reasons is fine.

            1. Then that would warrant attention to the culture not to abortion.

              1. Sure, but the abortions would be an indicator of the problem.

    2. Isn’t the idea of aborting a kid just because he isn’t the sex you wanted at leasta little disturbing?

      Yeah but only the abortion part of it. And i feel that way about abortion anyway. Even though i am pro-choice.

      If they sex selected sperm used for artificial insemination would you still be disturbed?

  4. Because women aren’t required to state why they want an abortion in order to get one, gender-based abortion bans accomplish effectively nothing.

    And even if women were forced to justify their reasons for terminating a pregnancy (under the South Dakota law, physicians would be required to ask those seeking abortions whether they’re doing it because of the sex of the fetus)

    huh?

    , what’s to stop them from simply concealing their true motivation?

    All of them? Always forever and ever everyone will conceal the true motivation?

    “Proponents of this kind of legislation must think Asians are not only misogynist,

    Both sides agree Asians are misogynist. Might as well have called the proponents poopy faces.

    but too stupid to come up with another reason for seeking an otherwise entirely legal abortion.”

    Here we have a progressive accusing conservatives of thinking people are stupid. It’s always projection with these people.

  5. I’m admittedly not up-to-date on the latest LGBTQIAPK gibberish, but how the fuck does a fetus have a gender?

    1. I’m not sure on all that either, but they can tell if a kid has a penis or not, which in my book means it’s a little dude.

      1. That was just a thought crime until you typed it. Now we need to ring your comment with HATE CRIME SCENE tape.

    2. My guess is you would enroll it in a gender studies class so it can explore it’s feelings on the subject in an empowering and non-judgmental environment.

      1. This was the funniest thing I read today, thanks for it.

    3. Re: Sidd Finch,

      I’m admittedly not up-to-date on the latest LGBTQIAPK gibberish, but how the fuck does a fetus have a gender?

      XX = Goil, Lass, Bitch, Ho

      XY = Goy, Laddie, Mon, Dude

      Now, let’s talk about mitochondria, kids…

  6. I don’t think anyone is ‘pro abortion’

    AHEM. Cytotoxic. Pleasure’s mine.

  7. But?at the risk of sounding like a sociopath?so what? A woman’s reproductive rights aren’t invalidated just because we may not like her motivations.

    And the argument would make sense if there was such a thing as a woman’s right to kill an innocent human being. Regardless of her motives.

    1. Or if an embryo or a fetus was not an innocent human person.

      1. Re: Bo Cara Esq.

        Or if an embryo or a fetus was not an innocent human person.

        I thereby declare that you, Bo, are not a person.

        See how that works? Easy piecy.

        Before you continue issuing perfunctory contradictions, utilize some deductive reasoning for a change.

        1. Yes, I’m SO very glad there aren’t any differences between a fetus and a grown man. You’ve really got him on the run now!

          1. The difference between a fetus and a grown man, a delivered baby and a grown man, and a 2 year old and a grown man are rather trivial. Yet it’s not legal to kill the delivered baby or the 2 year old (although if you want to argue that it’s ethical to kill the delivered baby or the 2 year old on the same grounds I’d at least give you points for consistency).

            If it’s a matter of cognitive function, woe to Bo.

            1. The difference between a fetus and a grown man, a delivered baby and a grown man, and a 2 year old and a grown man are rather trivial

              Uh no, they’re not trivial, especially between the 1st two. You’re trying to tell me that an early-pregnancy clump of cells without even much of a brain at all is only trivially different from a grown man, or even a 3rd-trimester baby or newborn? Yeah, right.

              If it’s a matter of cognitive function, woe to Bo.

              Again no. Cognitive function is not static through pregnancy, there is a significant period of time where the fetus doesn’t have much of any cognitive function. So not “woe to Bo” for suggesting that there’s a time before personhood for a developing infant.

        2. perfunctory contradictions

          You’re just assuming your conclusion here. The very question he’s bringing up is what defines a person.

      2. The crime wave among fetuses is reaching epidemic proportions. ‘Bout time the little fuckers got theirs.

  8. “But?at the risk of sounding like a sociopath?so what?”

    Nominate this for engraving on the front of the Abortion Museum.

  9. Most people don’t find out the sex until after 14 weeks, so if that’s the limit for abortions in SD (that’s what it sounded like in the quote), then there can’t be too many people factoring sex into the decision. There are newer blood tests that can indicate gender much earlier, but they’re only 100% if the baby is male. Basically, they test fetal blood cells that end up in the mother’s bloodstream, but if the results show XX, they can’t be sure they actually got fetal cells vs. maternal ones. Of course, most people in the U.S. want daughters anyway (based on adoption stats), so there is the theoretical risk of males being aborted for being male, but our cultural norms don’t support the practice they way cultural norms in some areas of Asia do. In those places, it’s not the woman choosing to abort, it’s her husband compelling her to do so.

    1. it’s her husband compelling her to do so.

      err…

      prove it.

  10. Abort all the male babies!!

    I want desperate sex crazed nubiles twenty to thirty years from now!!!

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