PHOENIX, Arizona, March 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life Republican Governor Jan Brewer has signed into law Arizona’s ban on racial and sex-selective abortion, a law which is a national first. Lawmakers are also sending to the governor another bill that bans “telemed” abortions as part of an expanded informed consent law.
The newly enacted “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011” (HB 2443) makes it a Class 3 felony to perform or in any way coerce someone into receiving an abortion based on the race or gender of the unborn child.
Abortionists convicted of violating the law could face a maximum 3.5 years in prison, and the loss of their medical license. Any medical professional who fails to report a violation is also subject to a $10,000 fine.
The law requires doctors to obtain an affidavit that the abortion is not sought for racial or sex-selective reasons.
The law also allows the father of an unborn child (if he is married to the mother) to bring a civil action on the child’s behalf. In the case of an abortion performed on an unemancipated minor, the maternal grandparents of the aborted child would also be able to initiate legal action on the baby’s behalf.
The measure was opposed by Planned Parenthood. “This law creates a highly unusual requirement that women state publicly their reason for choosing to terminate a pregnancy — a private decision they already made with their physician, partner and family,” Bryan Howard, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said in a statement.
Critics of the bill have denied any evidence of race or gender-selective abortions in the United States.
However, other demographics experts, such as Population Research Institute, disagree, pointing to evidence of major gender imbalances particularly among recent immigrant families from countries with a cultural preference for boys. Such dramatic imbalances can only be explained by sex-selective abortion they say.
Pro-life proponents of such measures have also pointed to the disproportionately high rate of abortions among minorities as evidence that racially motivated abortions are occurring in the United States.
A sting operation by the pro-life group Live Action also found that some Planned Parenthood employees were willing to accept donations earmarked for racially-motivated abortions. The Arizona law criminalizes the acceptance of such donations by prohibiting the solicitation or acceptance of money to finance a sex-selective or gender-selective abortion.
On Wednesday lawmakers also approved HB 2416, which expands the state’s informed consent law by requiring abortionists to offer women a chance to look at an ultrasound of their unborn baby and a description of its stage of development, at least one hour before the scheduled abortion. The bill also requires abortionists to give mothers the chance to hear the heartbeat of their unborn baby. The mother must certify that the abortionist offered these services before getting anesthesia and going through the abortion.
The measure also defines “abortion” to include chemical abortion, such as through the RU-486 abortion pill, and includes a measure strictly prohibiting “telemedicine” for abortions.
Abortionists who violate the law may lose their license to practice medicine, and face severe civil penalties. They can be sued by the mother or the father (if married to the mother). In the case of a minor, the child’s parents can sue on her behalf. The law provides that statutory damages are at least $5000 or three times the cost of the abortion, whichever is greater, in addition to further monetary damages and attorney’s fees.
Gov. Brewer is expected to sign the measure.