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San Francisco Lawmakers Could Pass Resolution Against Sex-Selective Abortion Bans

Nina Liss-Schultz

If the resolution passes through the city’s Board of Supervisors, San Francisco might become the first city to explicitly condemn sex-selective abortion bans.

San Francisco might become the first city to explicitly condemn sex-selective abortion bans, if a resolution introduced Tuesday passes through the city’s Board of Supervisors.

David Chiu, president of the board, the legislative body of the City and County of San Francisco, introduced the resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans on the basis that they perpetuate racial stereotypes that are harmful to women and communities of color.

Republicans in Congress have tried for years to pass bans both on sex-selective and race-selective abortions. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who has introduced versions of the same bill, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, several years in a row, called sex-selective abortion bans and the fight against abortion “the civil rights struggle that will define our generation.”

Such bans, Chiu said in the resolution, perpetuate “false and harmful racial stereotypes that such laws are necessary to stop an influx of Asian immigrants from spreading this practice, and that Asian American communities do not value the lives of women.”

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Sex-selective abortion bans also encourage the profiling of patients on the basis of their ethnicity or race, said Chiu, and “can lead to the denial of health care services to women.”

Having repeatedly failed to pass such bans at the federal level, Republicans have turned to the states.

Eight states have enacted laws banning abortions based on sex selection, and 21 states have considered such legislation since 2009, according to the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), an advocacy nonprofit that rallied in support of Chiu’s resolution. It was the second-most proposed state-level abortion restriction in 2013.

Early this year, California Assembly member Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), introduced a ban on abortions motivated by sex-selection, with a fine of up to $10,000 against doctors who performed such abortions. The bill failed to pass in committee.

In a press release, Shivana Jorawar, reproductive justice program director of NAPAWF, said that the civil rights language adopted by advocates of these abortion bans belie an interest in curtailing abortion.

“Let me be clear,” said Jorawar, “the people behind these laws do not care about gender equality. They consistently vote against the interests of women, and of immigrant communities, for that matter. Their goal here is to ban abortion, and they are doing it on the backs of AAPI women.”

In June this year, NAPAWF issued a report debunking six myths of sex-selective abortions.

The resolution introduced by Supervisor Chiu will be voted on by the board on September 16.

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