Posted on March 30, 2011

Billboard, New Law, Highlight Racial Turn for Abortion Debate

Zachary Roth, Yahoo! News, March 30, 2011

As if America’s debate over abortion weren’t contentious enough, it’s lately been stirred by the addition of another hot-button issue: race.

Yesterday, Arizona became the first state in the nation to outlaw abortions performed on the basis of the race or gender of the fetus. And an anti-abortion billboard that uses an image of President Obama to target Chicago’s black community has sparked a furor.

The Arizona bill, signed into law on Tuesday by Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, makes it a felony for doctors or other medical professionals to perform an abortion in order to help parents choose their offspring on the basis of race or gender. The law does not punish the woman having the abortion.

“Governor Brewer believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable–the unborn–and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record,” a spokesman for Brewer told Reuters.

But opponents of the unusual measure contend there’s little evidence that fetuses in Arizona are being aborted on the basis of gender or race. And they say the law could lead doctors to ask women about their reasons for having an abortion–something supporters of abortion rights view as a private decision.