North Carolina Bill Will Ban Sex-Selective Abortion

As much as law making is a tool for codifying the public opinion, we seem to always have a minority particularly clever in circumventing it. In 1973, backed solidly by the Fourteenth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman has the right to consider an abortion until the fetus is viable (able to live on its own outside the womb). The historical Roe v. Wade has been matter of contention since the gavel first struck wood 40 years ago, with all manners of bills being proposed at the state and federal level to elude the trappings of the decision or dismantle it entirely.

The latest sidestep of Roe v. Wade is a string of state legislation attempting to prohibit sex-selective abortions. A bill, titled The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, reached the floor of the U.S. House of Representative in 2012 but failed by a margin of 78 votes after being labeled a “sneak attack” on abortion access. However, when Republicans presented the bill last May, it was intimated that they held little hope that it would pass; they saw it as ideal opportunity to force Democrats to take a decisive stance on an issue that colors elections, from the local to the federal level. And it seems in this respect, they won. Kansas passed a similar law this past summer, which also declared unequivocally that life begins at fertilization. Thirteen other states have similar language in their state laws, including North Dakota last week, capitalizing on the somewhat fuzzy section of Roe v. Wade which provides that women have a right to an abortion, though the state can initiate its own restrictions on the circumstances where that abortion would be legal. And North Carolina may be next to join this exclusive club.

But sex-selective abortions are a global phenomenon, particularly in countries like China when the arrival of a baby boy is celebrated with much more pomp than would be his female counterpart. In one study of immigrant Indian women living in the US, there are indications that as many as 89% of the women interviewed aborted girls throughout the course of the study and gender discrimination is undeniably a verified concern. On the other hand, the U.S. sex ratio is 1.05 males to ever female born, which is perfectly in line with the normal range of 1.05 to 1.07 while countries whose populations are victims of wide-spread sex-selective abortions have male to female sex rations of 1.10 or higher.

But, could North Carolina actually be protecting a national imbalance of the sexes? It seems unlikely, as Representative Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, who has already introduced bills that placed other restrictions on abortion, is championing the bill. And other reports indicate that the measure these types of bills outline won’t actually be enough incentive to prevent any sex-selective abortions. Like the senate filibuster and other cleverly titled bills, North Carolina’s bill banning sex-selective abortions reads deceptively like an underhand maneuver for politicians to get around laws that they simply don’t like.

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Rachel Lesser

Rachel is studying at Georgetown University. But more importantly, she is a lover of words, art, travel and adventure.

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