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01 / 04 / 2011 - Arizona becomes first state to ban race-based abortions
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed legislation to ban abortions based on the race or sex of the unborn child or based on the race of a parent.
�Governor Brewer believes society has the responsibility to protect its most vulnerable, the unborn,� the governor�s spokesman Matthew Benson told The Arizona Republic. He described the bill as consistent with the governor�s �pro-life track record.�
The law makes it a Class 3 felony knowingly to perform or finance an abortion sought on the grounds of sex or race, with a maximum punishment of 3 1/2 years in prison.
Illinois, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania already have laws barring sex-selective abortion, but the Arizona law is the first to ban race-based abortion, the New York-based Guttmacher Institute says.
Supporters of the legislation said discrimination-based abortions should be prohibited.
State Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Scottsdale) said that some cultures are �bringing their traditions to America that really defy the values of America, including the cultures that value males over females.�
Opponents said abortion-performing doctors could face jail time if they lose a newly required affidavit testifying that an abortion is not for race- or sex-selection purposes.
Those against the law also questioned whether there was evidence that such abortions are taking place in Arizona. Rep. Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix) said the only proof bill sponsor Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-Litchfield Park) offered concerned India and China.
A 2008 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted by researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund examined figures from the 2000 U.S. Census which showed �son-biased sex ratios� among U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian parents.
The researchers concluded the imbalanced sex ratios were evidence of sex-selection, �most likely at the pre-natal stage.� Similar sex imbalances have been documented among Canadian Asian immigrant communities.
Sex-selective abortions can have significant effects when practiced on a large scale. In China, millions of men have no women to marry in their age group because a traditional preference for sons has encouraged parents to abort unborn girls.