State legislatures are adopting numerous abortion restrictions targeting very specific pregnancy conditions and populations. In recent years, members of Congress have introduced federal legislation that would prohibit abortions based on the sex or race of the fetus.
Sex-selective abortions—that is, abortions performed because of the predicted sex of the fetus—occur most frequently where there is a strong gender bias that manifests in a preference for sons. In some countries, such as those in East and South Asia, the widespread practice of sex selection has resulted in skewed sex ratios with a higher number of boys than girls at birth. In contrast, in the United States, there is limited and inconclusive evidence that immigrants from these areas—or anywhere else—are obtaining sex-selective abortions. Bans on sex-selective abortions place a burden on providers, who are forced to question each person’s reasons for seeking an abortion, and to second-guess and stigmatize Asian American patients and communities in particular. While disguised as a means to eliminate gender discrimination, these laws make abortion less accessible; they do not prohibit other sex selection methods, such as sperm sorting or preimplantation genetic diagnostics.
Arizona enacted legislation that prohibits a person from aborting a fetus because of race, thereby focusing on the race of the person seeking an abortion and placing providers in the position of having to question their patients' motivations. Antiabortion legislators and activists claim that abortion providers are targeting Latina and African American people in their communities, relying on statistics showing that these women of color have higher rates of abortions than White women. In fact, six in 10 abortion providers are located in majority-White neighborhoods. Moreover, data show that women of color face higher rates of unintended pregnancies, which leads to higher rates of abortion (see Abortion and Women of Color: The Bigger Picture).
In 2013, North Dakota was the first state to prohibit abortions in cases of fetal abnormality, even in cases where the fetus has a condition that is incompatible with life and will die before or soon after birth. Multiple states have implemented counseling requirements for people seeking abortion to include information on perinatal hospice services.
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11 states ban abortions for reason of sex selection at some point in pregnancy.
4 states prohibit abortions for reasons of race.
5 states prohibit abortions when the fetus may have a genetic anomaly.
3 states require counseling on perinatal hospice services available before a patient can undergo an abortion if it may be based on a lethal fetal condition.
Kansas requires counseling on perinatal hospice services before an abortion can be performed.