Two weeks ago, Tennessee passed a six-week abortion ban—one of the strictest in the country—as constituents slept. But in addition to being unconstitutional, the ban specifically targets people of color, writes Tina Vasquez in Prism.
Tennessee’s 60-page bill includes a “sex selective abortion ban,” meaning a doctor cannot provide an abortion if they suspect a patient is undergoing the procedure based on the sex of the fetus.
According to Guttmacher, state legislatures adopt abortion restrictions that ban abortion on the basis of sex selection, race selection or genetic anomaly, which “stigmatize pregnant people of color who seek abortions by questioning the motivation behind their abortion decision.”
Historically, sex selection occurs most often in countries where there’s a preference for sons.
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, told Prism that there is no evidence that sex selective abortions are happening in the U.S. But,
“Asian American women may stop seeking medical services because they are afraid of being criminalized, which can threaten their life and their pregnancy because of this hostile, racist, and sexist bill. It reveals this underlying assumption that women of color cannot be trusted to make reasonable decisions about their own bodies.”
The bill does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, and also bans abortion for anyone in custody of the Department of Children’s Services. Violating the new restrictions would be a Class C felony.
“In this moment where the Movement for Black Lives Matter and its supporters are fighting to move away from policing, criminalization, prisons, and punishment, we are increasing criminal penalties for reproductive health care,” Healthy and Free Tennessee, which promotes sexual health and reproductive freedom across the state, wrote in a statement.
The legislation comes shortly after the Supreme Court reversed a restrictive abortion law that would have forced all but one provider in the state to close.