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Stakeholders: La. Abortion Ban Bill Could Restrict Asian-American Women's Access to Reproductive Care

Stakeholders: La. Abortion Ban Bill Could Restrict Asian-American Women's Access to Reproductive Care

May 19, 2015 — A bill (HB 701) passed by the Louisiana House on Thursday that would ban abortions based on a fetus' sex could lead physicians to refuse to perform abortions on Asian-American women, according to advocacy groups, Al Jazeera America reports (Hayoun, Al Jazeera America, 5/15).


The bill would allow the man involved in the pregnancy or the parent of either the woman or man involved in the pregnancy to sue the physician who performed the abortion if the parties believe it was based on the sex of the fetus.

The bill's language would also apply to individuals who help a physician perform such an abortion. Individuals found in violation of the bill would be fined $10,000 for an initial offense, $50,000 for a second offense, $100,000 for a third offense and more than $100,000 for any subsequent offenses.

In addition, the bill would allow the state, individuals involved in the pregnancy and their various relatives -- as well as a health care provider of a woman who sought or obtained such an abortion -- to seek an injunction against any physician who performs an abortion based on the fetus' sex. It would also allow relatives of those involved in the pregnancy to file for an injunction to stop an abortion if they believe it is being sought based on the sex of the fetus.

Further, the measure would require abortion providers to tell women a fetus' sex if it can be determined at the beginning of the state's 24-hour mandatory delay period. Under the bill, physicians would be required to attempt to determine a fetus' sex if the woman has been pregnant for at least 10 weeks.

The bill is currently before the state Senate. If enacted, Louisiana would join eight other states that have adopted similar bans: Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/15).

Concerns With Legislation

NAPAWF Reproductive Justice Program Director Shivana Jorawar said the bill is based on harmful stereotypes of Asian Americans and continues "discrimination against Asian-American women in the U.S." She said her group "worr[ies] that doctors fearing punishment may turn Asian-American women [who are seeking abortions] away."

She added that an abortion ban based on a fetus' sex is "a deceitful way for anti-abortion lawmakers to chip away at abortion rights."

Meanwhile, Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said "there is no evidence that sex-selective abortions" occur in the state.

Further, she noted that the legislation does not indicate whether a physician or the plaintiff would bear the burden of proof in a case alleging that an abortion was based on a fetus' sex. She said, "The idea that you could have litigation without establishing what needs to be proven -- i[t] [would] be a mess" (Al Jazeera America, 5/15).