According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven states currently prohibit abortion care based on the sex of the fetus. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that, in addition to Washington, four other states -- Indiana, Missouri, Oregon and West Virginia -- have proposed such legislation.
Details of Bill
The Washington measure would make providing or attempting to provide abortion care based on the sex of the fetus a Class C felony in the state. According to the AP/Times, the maximum penalty under a Class C felony is a $10,000 fine and/or up to five years in prison. Further, providers who perform such abortions could lose their medical licenses.
Rivers said she does not expect the state Legislature to pass the measure. According to the AP/Times, it is unlikely that the bill will garner support in the state House if it does move out of the state Senate.
Rachel Berkson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, called the proposed legislation "a Trojan horse to ban abortion." According to abortion-rights groups, abortions based on the sex of the fetus are not a problem in the United States, the AP/Times reports.
Noting that there is no way for providers to know why a woman seeks abortion care, Berkson said the proposed legislation could cause physicians to make assumptions about women from countries where such abortions are provided. "We think this would unfairly harm [such women] and stand in the way of their access," she said.
Berkson noted, "Of course, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington has long opposed and will continue to oppose reproductive coercion in any form, and that includes societal pressure to have a child of a particular sex" (La Corte, AP/Seattle Times, 2/1).