March 5, 2014 — A South Dakota Senate panel on Monday heard arguments about potential racial profiling under a bill (HB 1162) that would ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee deadlocked 3-3 on the measure and will revisit it on Wednesday. The bill's sponsors could also offer revisions at that time (Hertel, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/4).
The South Dakota House passed the bill last month. Under the legislation, doctors who knowingly perform or attempt an abortion requested because of the fetus' sex could face up to a $4,000 fine and two years in prison. Abortion providers would be required to ask women whether they knew the fetus' sex and were seeking an abortion for that reason.
Debate Over Racial Stereotyping
During the House debate, supporters of the bill said that son preference in some Asian nations leads to abortions of female fetuses and that they do not want the practice coming to South Dakota (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/24).
There are no data showing that abortions are being performed in South Dakota for sex selection, according to the AP/Bee.
At Monday's Senate committee hearing, opponents of the bill said it promotes stigma and racial profiling of Asian Americans.
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum spokesperson Shivana Jorawar testified, "We object profusely to the way our community is being used to promote this bill," adding, "It co-opts the language of equality while undermining the equality of Asian-Americans."
State Rep. Jenna Haggar (R), the bill's main sponsor, argued that the "bill has nothing to do with race," adding, "These abortions are wrong. They're wrong in any and every culture."
Some Republican lawmakers questioned the need for the bill and said it would place the blame on doctors (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/4).