As we head into the 2015 legislative session, we need to be prepared for
anti-choice filed a bill last week
to prohibit abortions based on fetal determinations of sex or potential
disability. The proposed Indiana bill is very similar to legislation
that failed to pass in last year’s session and mirrors a North Dakota
bill that did pass in 2013. Regardless of this bill’s progress, it
should serve as a warning to pro-choice disability rights activists of
the legislative maneuvers sure to take place in the coming months.
individuals and groups to use the issue of
disability-selection abortions to try and widen the divide between
disability rights activists and those working for reproductive rights.
It’s already begun in Indiana.
A yet-to-be introduced bill would prohibit abortions sought because a pre-natal screening or diagnostic test showed the fetus could have Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21. The genetic disorder causes developmental delays and intellectual disability of varying degrees. Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said details such as how the law would be enforced are still being determined as the bill is drafted.
This language is being pushed by anti-choice organizations in collaboration with their favorite lawmakers. It is the a new front (there are so many) of the abortion wars, and pro-choice anti-eugenics pro-information advocates need to be ready.
What’s more, the anti-choice lawmakers are doing the usual deception that this is pro-woman. The co-author of the bill said:
Bill co-author Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, said physicians too
often steer women toward decisions without giving them enough
“I think what we’re seeing today is a rush to judgment,” Brown said.
There is just enough truth here to be dangerous. In fact women do make the decision to terminate the pregnancies based on partial or erroneous information, as Mark Leach discusses here. However, if Brown is really concerned with information, then pass a pro-information bill mandating physicians and genetic counselors provide full and accurate information. Instead, Indiana is going another direction.
In my RHRC essay I stated that pro-choice disability rights advocates like myself must agree that disability-selection abortion should be legal AND agree that talking about eugenic principles at play in such abortions can be discussed without undermining choice.
With right-wing legislators using pro-information as a way to further restrict access to reproductive choice, I don’t know that I can make that second statement in good faith. I don’t know that I can advocate for pro-information bills anymore.
In general, conservative legislatures pass anti-choice bills while simultaneously removing social supports for poor families. Even when the bills explicitly deal with disability-selection abortions, as in the two Indiana bills, they are not disability rights legislation. They are attempts to divide and conquer.
The state has no right to control women’s bodies. The state also has no right to mandate health care providers lie or conceal information from pregnant women.
And other right-wing states are sure to follow, because the national anti-choice organizations are drafting legislation and passing it around. Be ready.