Race and Sex Selective Abortion Bans

Don’t let South Dakota pass a racist anti-Asian abortion ban!

Sign the petition!

SD HB1162

Last week the South Dakota House voted 60 to 10 to pass an abortion ban which they say is necessary because of Asian immigrants in the state.

Stace Nelson, one of the Representatives that voted in favor of the bill, warned of an invasion of abortion-seeking Asians in South Dakota:

“Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state.”

The South Dakota Senate is currently discussing the bill.

Click here to listen to NAPAWF’s Reproductive Justice Program Director testify before the South Dakota Senate:

This measure, like other similar measures we are seeing across the country, are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The people behind these bans have never been friends to women and they are simply trying to underhandedly pass an anti-choice measure on the backs of Asian American women.

Don’t let this kind of racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric go unanswered. Tell the South Dakota Legislature NOT to pass HB 1162.


Since 2008, extremist anti-choice politicians have been promoting discriminatory abortion bans that target Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) and African American women. Some iterations of this legislation ban both race- and sex-selective abortion, while others only ban sex-selective abortion.

NAPAWF has been working hard on the state and federal level to stand up for women of color and push back against these bans. We have been educating our partners, community, and lawmakers on this issue for years and, in 2011, our Executive Director was the only witness testifying against this ban when it was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Watch a video of Miriam Yeung’s testimony here:

On May 29, 2013, NAPAWF joined the NAACP, represented by the ACLU, in filing suit against Arizona’s version of this ban—the only race and sex selective abortion ban in the country.

These bills are part of a deceptive attempt to slip anti-choice measures under the radar. They claim to promote racial and gender equity, when in reality they aim to chip away at reproductive rights by exploiting negative stereotypes about women of color. Using the language of equality, anti-choice conservatives hope to foster nontraditional alliances with true advocates for women and people of color, in order to gain broad support for their agenda.

We recognize these abortion bans as an underhanded tactic. Instead of ending inequality, they promote it by subjecting the motives of African American and AAPI women to scrutiny other women would not endure. The hypocrisy becomes even more clear when we look at who is supporting this bill. Many of the politicians supporting this type of legislation have voted against basic legislation for women, including the Violence Against Women’s Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Sex selection is a real concern, and skewed sex ratios in India, China, Vietnam, and even the country of Georgia are troubling. In the United States, we are not confronted by the same skewed sex ratios. Still, we are well aware that gender inequality in the United States does exist, and that for some families, the desire to have a son – particularly in families who already have two or more daughters – is very strong. Banning abortion, however, is not the solution. Bans are not only unsuccessful, they also threaten women’s human rights. Instead, we urge lawmakers to alleviate the root cause of sex selection- gender inequity. NAPAWF and our friends in the Asian American community are already working to address gender inequity, and resulting son preference, in effective and culturally-competent ways. We are working to eliminate gender stereotypes that devalue women, building women’s leadership, increasing economic opportunity for women, and improving women’s health outcomes. These are the things that will truly effect change by increasing the status of women and decreasing the preference for sons.

Rather than truly addressing racial and gender inequity, these abortion bans insult communities of color and undermine women’s reproductive rights.