Advocates Ask Ninth Circuit to Reinstate Challenge to Arizona Race- and Sex-Selection Abortion Ban


On Wednesday, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Maricopa County appealed the dismissal of their challenge to an Arizona anti-choice restriction that they argue unconstitutionally relies on harmful racial stereotypes to discriminate against and shame Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women who decide to end their pregnancies.

Arizona’s HB 2443, passed in 2011, makes it a felony for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy if she knows the abortion is “sought based on the sex or race of the child or the race of the parent of that child.” The law also requires doctors to sign an affidavit to certify that the reason the patient is seeking an abortion has nothing to do with the race or sex of the embryo or fetus. That affidavit must be filed away and made available, when requested, to the Arizona Medical Board and prosecutors. If convicted under HB 2443, a doctor faces up to seven years in prison.

In May 2013, NAPAWF and the NAACP, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Arizona, filed suit to challenge the bill arguing the law violated the 14th Amendment. A lower court dismissed the challenge in October of 2013, holding the groups did not have standing to challenge the law. According to the court, the parties had not shown that any individual had suffered an “actual injury” under the law. The court reasoned that because the basis of the lawsuit “rests exclusively on alleged stigma and denigration issues,” which the court categorized as “generalized and abstract injuries,” the parties did not have a basis for constitutional standing necessary to move the lawsuit forward. The lower court did not rule on the merits, but instead dismissed the case on standing. This filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appeals that decision.

“This law is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Miriam Yeung, NAPAWF executive director and a leading voice on how these laws discriminate against women of color, said in a statement. “This law is not about equality or women’s health. It’s about advancing an anti-abortion agenda by shaming and demeaning Black and AAPI women. The politicians behind this law do not care about improving the lives and health of women and girls. They are just exploiting women’s personal and private health care decisions to score political points.”

As detailed in the challenge to the law, “race and sex selection abortion bans promote anti-immigrant sentiments, stigmatize and discriminate against women of color by suggesting they can’t be trusted to make their own reproductive health care decisions.” In support of those claims, challengers pointed to the debate at the time the law was passed during which “supporters claimed AAPI women would engage in sex-selective abortion simply because of their race, even though there was no evidence of sex-selective abortions in Arizona.” Supporters of the law also argued “higher rates of abortion among Black women as evidence that Black women were either having abortions to prevent the birth of Black children, or were being duped into having abortions as part of a racist plot.”

“Once again, Arizona’s legislators passed a law based on clearly stated, discriminatory intent,” said Dan Pochoda, ACLU of Arizona legal director. “This opportunistic attempt to actualize racial bias furthers the perception of Arizona officials as bigots and of the state as unwelcoming.”

Supporters of the law argued that it does not illegally discriminate against Black or AAPI women because it forbids anyone from aborting based on the race or gender of the fetus. In fact, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne argued to the district court that the law actually protects civil rights because it is designed to protect minorities and “disfavored genders.” Civil rights advocates in the state disagree. “Instead of racist laws that demonize women of color, we need policies that make it easier for a woman of color to raise her family in a safe and healthy environment, so she can make her own choices about her life,” said the Rev. Oscar Tillman of the Maricopa NAACP, which has been fighting to eliminate racial and ethnic bias in Arizona for almost a century.

Arizona is not alone in passing specious race- and sex-selection abortion bans. Over the past five years, more than 60 bills like Arizona’s have been introduced both at state and federal levels. Earlier this month, the South Dakota legislature passed an abortion ban targeting AAPI women, which advocates are trying to get vetoed.

“When the government passes a law reducing its citizens to ugly racial stereotypes, it inflicts on them one of the most serious constitutional injuries recognized in our legal system,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “We are hopeful the Ninth Circuit will reverse the lower court’s decision and allow NAACP and NAPAWF to have their day in court.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy

  • R0chambeau

    Margaret Sanger loved it when those evil black people didn’t procreate. She was a eugenicist after all. Why do you think she set up her first clinic in a predominantly black neighborhood?

    • fiona64

      So much stupid, so little time …

      • R0chambeau

        So little time to defend that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who was a eugenicist, and supported getting rid of the unfit and then….wait for it…set up a clinic to provide birth control in African American communities.

        Yeah, and you wonder why people questioned her motives.

        • King Rat

          Well you know, birth control is how Hitler killed 6 million Jews

        • lady_black

          Birth control??? Oh the HUMANITY!

        • Arekushieru

          Of course, an anti fails to provide the citations that are needed, yet again, specifically for THIS comment: supported getting rid of the unfit; but I should warn you to not waste your time, now that it’s AFTER that fact. After all, I’m pretty sure I know WHERE you get that idea from. I’m pretty sure the reference you used goes something like this: …we do not want word to get out that our goal is to eradicate [black people] (whatever the exact phrasing is for the object of the sentence is actually irrelevant when considering that the actual INTENT of the phrase is contained in the subject line); which means that you lack reading comprehension, which is typical of most anti-choicers. ‘We do not want word to get out’ is ALSO a phrase used to prevent *erroneous* RUMOURS from being spread. That is why context is SO important, yet antis, for some reason, fail to grasp such a simple concept, time and time again.

          I’m not going to argue that Margaret Sanger was neither racist nor a eugenicist (which are two different things, btw). I believe she was both, however NOT in the way most anti-choicers would LIKE us to assume. Margaret Sanger, herself, employed both black and white people and INSISTED that the black employees be treated the same as her white employees. (This piece of information came to my knowledge from a black person, btw. So it is my sincere hope that it is understood that I did not come to this conclusion solely, if at all, because I am white.) But she DID believe that black people were inferior. She also used her privilege as a white woman to speak to audiences that included members of the Klu Klux Klan. That she went ahead and used that privilege to not only *do* just that, but to use phraseology that a black person would never get away with, is what makes her racist. She WAS a eugenicist but she did NOT advocate that the infirm, impoverished or black people be sterilized. NOR did she advocate that breeding programs be mandated for white people. That was a policy implemented by Hitler (who was ANTI-CHOICE, btw and whom Ms. Sanger adamantly abhorred).

          Birth control in Margaret Sanger’s time was intended (almost) solely for women. Denying birth control to the African American communities meant denying it solely to the female half of the African American population. It is also designed to prevent a medical condition that is inherent only in FEMALE biology, whether or NOT it is intended for both women and men. Based on your profile you are male (so, even if you, yourself, are black), that means you, sir, are a misogynist and, since that is the only concern that is relevant when it comes to discussing the relationship between birth control and Margaret Sanger, you utterly FAIL in your argument, like MOST anti-choicers.

          • R0chambeau

            TL:DR

          • King Rat

            Why, are you just trolling and not at all interested in honest debate?

          • goatini

            GFY

          • Arekushieru

            Huh, he complains about other people not taking the time to address HIS comments, but he is SO important that if something directly affects HIS precious time, everyone must give him sympathetic feels. Wow, why does every anti-choicer just keep proving what hypocrites they are?

        • fiona64

          I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that you have never read a single, solitary thing about the origin of that clinic … which was created because NO DOCTOR WOULD TREAT PEOPLE OF COLOR. Yeah, you read that right.

          And here is the actual paper on the beginning of the so-called “Negro Project”: https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=320905.xml

          Quote: The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America. Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair.

          And also (emphasis added):

          The Hannah Stone Maternal Health Center in Harlem is now engaged in a demonstration of planned parenthood as a measure of better health. The demonstration was begun after a city-wide survey revealed that maternal and infant deaths and stillbirth
          rates were twice, and in some cases, three times as high in Harlem as in any other part of Manhattan. To help lower these rates, the Maternal Health Center is taking an active part in the community health program. Its services are available to all married women whose incomes are not large enough to allow for the expense of private medicine. The bi-racial staff provides child spacing service; consultation on infertility, to help one
          out of every ten married couples who want children but find they do not have them; and marriage counselling, which is an increasingly important part of the planned parenthood program.

          —–
          So, dummy, let me sum up: Margaret Sanger was trying to help all underprivileged women stop dying of childbirth. And she valued children of color just as much as she did any other children.

          You need to stop reading LieSiteNews and other such bullcrap.

          • R0chambeau

            Ha ha …yes, the “Negro race” was so important to Sanger that the most important thing she could do for the, was …create less of them through birth control.

            Sanger was a racist. Sanger was eugenicist. And you seem to support her. Thanks, but we don’t need a black genocide.

          • King Rat

            So, are you saying that:

            1) black women do not deserve access to family planning and birth control?

            2) black women are so ungodly stupid that they are incapable of making their own reproductive decisions and thus genocide their own race through family planning because…they are genetically inferior?

            3) and how about all of the whites who were also affected by Sanger’s policy of ‘pushing birth control’ on people – were whites just collateral damage, or did Sanger ALSO want to genocide whites by convincing them that birth control was a good thing?

            4) if PP is bad because of Sanger, then your computer is bad because William Shockley, the man who invented the transistor was extremely racist. So stop using your pc

            5) And if you have ever driven a Ford, you are a genocide sympathizer, because Henry Ford wrote a letter in praise of Hitler. In fact, if you have ever used something that came off a modern assembly line (invented by Ford) you are a party to geniocide

            6) In Sanger’s time black people living below the poverty line had large families – think 13 kids. Without access to birth control, there is no way they could dig themselves out of poverty. If you think that raising a child is cheap, let alone 13 kids, you are ignorant and stupid as you sound. And if whites are given the opportunity to choose how many children they will have, why can’t black people have that same opportunity? You sound like the racist to me, pumpkin.

            https://www.google.ca/search?q=how+much+does+it+cost+to+raise+a+child&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb&gfe_rd=cr&ei=2CUjU-n8DIaV8Qf99oGIDg

            7) Some of the posters here are black. Way to insult them, and insinuate that they are too fucking stupid to make their own reproductive decisions. Again, who is the racist? (you are)

            8) We all know you’re just trolling and are completely full of shit. I am humouring you for the lurkers.

          • R0chambeau

            Ahh…A Sanger apologist. I knew I’d find one here.

          • HeilMary1

            You’re an apologist for forcing obstetric bladder and bowel incontinence fistulas, cancers, multiple organ failures, sepsis and death on women every time they have sex. You’re disgusting.

          • goatini

            My high school health ed class, almost 50 years ago, taught us about the great humanitarian Margaret Sanger, and her tireless, selfless work to help women worldwide live longer, happier lives with healthier, happier families.

            I am quite sure that you are responsible for doing ZERO to help women worldwide live longer, happier lives with healthier, happier families. Actually less than zero, because you intentionally disseminate intentionally false propaganda about Ms Sanger.

          • HeilMary1

            Bet he never sent money to the famous Addis Ababa fistula hospital. (Actually, I haven’t either, but I send annually a little bit to Emily’s List, PP, PP International, NARAL, some pro-choice religious organizations, WPFW Pacifica radio in DC, a few underdog candidates, and some related groups.)

          • Arekushieru

            “And if whites are given the opportunity to choose how many children they
            will have, why can’t black people have that same opportunity? You sound
            like the racist to me, pumpkin.”

            HAH. I just LOVE that part I quoted from you, above.

            Also, about that link you posted, a Canadian poll was done recently in an Albertan (my province) based magazine, and apparently it runs somewhere into the 600, 000s, here, and that’s on a CONSERVATIVE estimate.

          • HeilMary1

            Mother killer, her goal was to SAVE women of all races from unwanted childbirth injuries and deaths. Misogynist you prefers all women suffer and die young as punishment for any kind of sex.

        • HeilMary1

          Racist you prefers non-white women die young by the millions by pumping out 10-30 kids each. Racist you prefers these orphans die by billions from starvation, wars, pollution and plagues. I question your motives.

    • HeilMary1

      Racist lying mother killer, SEVENTEEN pregnancies KILLED Sanger’s Catholic mother and as a public nurse and wife, she was determined not to end up the same way. She also was fed-up with cleaning up impoverished sickly mothers shredded by non-stop unwanted pregnancies. Her colleague, Mary Ware Dennett, was already humiliated by divorce for her own embarrassing childbirth injuries. Feces- and urine-leaking obstetric lacerations caused by fetuses only became somewhat fixable 150 years ago from gruesome experiments by Dr. Marion Sims on afflicted slave women. Black women disproportionately inherit smaller, deadly pelvic bones that obstruct safe fetal delivery, therefore, they suffer and die from far higher gruesome complications like obstetric bladder and bowel fistulas. How murderous and racist of you to insist that black mothers should still suffer and die from high fistulas rates!

    • King Rat

      Citation needed please.

    • VonRecklingHause

      Sanger was a dipshit on some things like eugenics for sure. But she did have the foresight to realize that birth control — contraception— was a good way to quell poverty and disease. If it wasn’t for her and her efforts, millions of people would have dealt with unintended pregnancies and things like STDs. Interestingly enough, which you probably didn’t know, she was against abortion.

      • Arekushieru

        Yup, you are absolutely one hundred percent correct. Margaret Sanger, unlike most anti-choicers, was ACTUALLY anti-abortion.

        • R0chambeau

          So how does Planned Parenthood, which she founded, deal with that?

        • HeilMary1

          I also read that she opposed abortion, but that doesn’t mean she would oppose it in all, most or some circumstances. Abortion probably wasn’t as safe then, and she was a big believer in prevention.

          • Arekushieru

            Ah, but I, personally, wasn’t using the term to imply that she opposed abortion, when I said she was anti-abortion I simply meant that she advocated for practices to prevent pregnancy that could end in abortion unlike most Pro-Liars I know who DO oppose abortion.

    • goatini

      Produce ONE accurate and contextual quote in which Margaret Sanger asserted that people of color were “evil”.

      You will not be able to, so I won’t be surprised at either (1) crickets chirping or (2) false “quotes” never uttered or written by Ms Sanger, and non-contextual cherry-picked fragments of quotes that in context assert no such thing.

      • Shan

        Dang, I tried to post to R0ch but they all got deleted. That’s kind of too bad. I’ve learned more about Sanger in the past couple of weeks by researching BS claims like “Sanger opened the first clinic in a Black neighborhood because she was a racist” than I’ve known about her all my life!

        • King Rat

          The mods are on the ball. Or somebody reported him. Remember, RHRC is on facebook – you can private message the mods there, and they will ban trolls.

          • Shan

            Huh. I didn’t know that.

            Still, I’m glad I got to see it before it was deleted. Otherwise, I never would have done his homework for him and learned something new myself LOL!

          • King Rat

            I really wouldn’t worry Shan. We get a ‘sanger wanted to wipe out the black race’ poster every 2 weeks.

          • Shan

            Oh, I’m not worried. I was just pointing out that it seems that trolls can be an unwitting conduit for good things. Because I have some more edumacation now.

          • HeilMary1

            Wiping them out by DOUBLING their life spans! Who knew that was racist?

          • Shan

            Yes, well, it’s no good if they live twice as long but only have as many children as they WANT to have, because that’s GENOCIDE, right?

          • HeilMary1

            Avoiding child starvation deaths by only having what you can feed is so selfish and racist! The best way to save villages is to BURN THEM!