Last year, anti-abortion advocates sought to ban sex-selective abortion. Now lawmakers in several states are trying a new but related tack: restricting abortion because of fetal abnormality. Sponsors of the bills argue that they’re necessary to prevent eugenics, while critics worry they tamper with doctor-patient confidentiality and even force women to give birth to children who can’t survive.
Members of the North Dakota House introduced such a bill last week — it would charge any doctor who performs an abortion for the reason of either the fetus’s sex or a genetic abnormality with a Class A misdemeanor, which can mean a year in prison. In Virginia, legislation introduced earlier this month would have barred Medicaid from covering abortions in the case of fetal abnormality — it was narrowly defeated in committee. And Indiana has introduced a bill that makes providing abortion in the case of fetal abnormality a Class C felony, a class punishable by up to eight years in prison.
“This chilling slide toward eugenics — specifically, eliminating persons with certain hereditary characteristics — must be confronted,” the legal team of Americans United for Life said in a statement to BuzzFeed Shift. AUL has produced model legislation to help legislators enact fetal-abnormality abortion bans. The group, whose model legislation was responsible for nearly a third of the abortion restrictions passed at the state level last year, says it has worked with Indiana lawmakers on their bill, and has also been in contact with state legislators in Colorado about the issue.