OLYMPIA – A bill banning abortions for sex-selection purposes cleared the Senate Law and Justice Committee Wednesday night and awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.
Calling the practice a true “war on women,” Law and Justice Chair Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill offers a needed protection for women and society as a whole. The practice in this country is not as widespread as in China and other Asian nations, but Padden said considerable evidence indicates even in this country that sex is a factor in the decision to abort.
“There is more and more evidence that this practice exists, and we have an obligation as a society to protect the most vulnerable in our society, the least among us,” Padden said. “This is really sex discrimination of the ultimate sort.”
Padden is a cosponsor of Senate Bill 6612, introduced by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center. Seven states already have enacted similar laws.
Sex-selection abortion has been enabled by the development of ultrasound procedures that allow pregnant mothers to determine the sex of the babies they carry. The practice is more prevalent in parts of the world where male children are more highly prized than females, where major imbalances between the number of male and female children can be observed. But Michael Pauley of Human Life of Washington testified at a Tuesday hearing regarding numerous studies documenting sex-selection abortion occurs in this country as well.
Among them is a 2011 University of Connecticut Health Center study suggesting that sex-selection is prevalent among some populations of Asian and Pacific Islanders. Their statistical analysis suggests about 1,000 females are aborted each year for reasons of sex.
A similar Columbia University study published in 2008 found a similar imbalance among particular demographic groups. The bias was particularly evident for third born children – sons typically outnumbered daughters by 50 percent.
“There is substantial evidence that a demand exists for sex-selection abortion in the United States, Great Britain, and other developed countries,” Pauley said. “Sadly, there is evidence that despite all condemnations of this practice from professional groups, abortion providers will cooperate with this request for sex selection.”
Angela Connelly, president of the Washington Women’s Network, a women’s advocacy organization, said the issue is a new form of discrimination against women. “I challenge you not to be naïve, to open your eyes not just to what is happening globally, but what is happening here,” she said. “We need to be strong enough to say sex discrimination is not allowed anywhere.”
Editor’s note. The following is excerpted from an update provided by pro-life Washington state Senator Mike Padden.