Arizona Abortion Law Is Racist|at Its Core, NAACP Says in Court

     PHOENIX (CN) – Arizona invidiously targets black and Asian-Pacific women in an unconstitutional law requiring doctors to complete an affidavit stating that a “woman seeking abortion care does not do so out of racial or gender animus towards her own fetus,” civil rights groups claim in Federal Court.
     The NAACP and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum sued Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and state Medical Board Director Lisa Wynn on Wednesday.
     They challenge Arizona House Bill 2443, aka the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011.”
     The law requires doctors who perform abortions to complete an affidavit stating that “the woman seeking abortion care does not do so out of racial or gender animus towards her own fetus. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 36-2157. This affidavit becomes a permanent feature of the woman’s medical files,” according to the complaint.
     Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law on March 29, 2011, and it became effective July 20, 2011.
     “The Act is an attack on the dignity of the black women and Asian or Pacific Islander (‘API’) women of Arizona,” the lawsuit states. “The Act is premised on the sponsors’ beliefs that black and API women are deliberately using abortion to destroy their own communities.”
     State Rep. Steve Montenegro, a Republican and the Act’s primary sponsor, claimed during debate in the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee that the measure “was necessary ‘because minority babies are several times more likely to be aborted than white babies,'” according to the complaint.
     Other sponsors and supporters claimed “the Act was justified on two grounds: (1) that the high rate of abortion in the black community proves that black women are terminating their pregnancies in order to ‘de-select’ members of their own race and (2) that the future immigration of API women to Arizona will make sex-selection abortion an issue within the state,” the complaint states.
     Miriam Yeung, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said the law reinforces racist stereotypes about Asian women.
     “The politicians behind this law do not care about gender justice here or abroad, and are instead using a racist and anti-immigrant law to demean women making serious medical decisions for themselves and their families,” Yeung said in a statement.
     “The language used by the Act’s sponsors and supporters, suggesting that API women as a group possess shared racial characteristics that make them a threat to American values and society, mirrors the racist and xenophobic language that drove Anti-Asian measures in the late 19th and early 20th century in this country,” the complaint states.
     The plaintiffs say no evidence every was presented “of a race- or sex-selection abortion that took place in Arizona,” or “introduced attempting to link the rate or number of abortions among white women, or women of any race except black women, to so-called race-selection abortions.”
     The complaint adds: “The State of Arizona’s own statistics, which were available to the legislators at the time they considered the Act, showed no discrepancy between the gender ratios of births to API women and of births to other women in Arizona: Over the ten-year period from 1999-2009, the percentage of female births in Arizona has remained constant, and fluctuated within a small range, for all groups; for the total population, the percentage of births that were female babies ranged from 48-50 percent; among white non-Hispanic women it was 48-49 percent; among Hispanic or Latina women it was 49 percent; among black or African-American women it was 46-51 percent; among American Indian or Alaska Native women it was 49-51 percent; and among API women it was 47-50 percent (48 percent in 2009).”
     The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional, and an injunction stopping its enforcement.
     They are represented by Dan Pochoda with the ACLU of Arizona.

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