The South Dakota House passed the bill 60-10 on Wednesday, sending the legislation to the state Senate. The measure would require doctors to ask mothers if they were seeking abortion due to the sex of the fetus. Doctors would be banned from performing the procedure of a woman answers "yes."
Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Don Haggar, said the legislature needs to make sure that all state residents know that sex-based abortions are not okay.
"Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was," he said when discussing the bill. "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. And I think that's a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it's also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex."
Haggar told Mother Jones that he was not discussing any particular ethnic group.
The vice president of South Dakota Right to Life, Spencer Cody, testified to the legislature earlier in February and linked Asian women in the state to sex-selective abortions.
"Ethnic backgrounds that are known to practice sex selection account for up to 3.9 percent of all abortions in South Dakota," he wrote in his presentation, according to Mother Jones. "It's possible that this could be affecting as many as 24 abortions a year."
In the presentation, Cody assumed that women who wrote "other" as their ethnicity when reporting their abortions to the South Dakota Department of Health were Asian, according to Mother Jones.
Democratic state Rep. Peggy Gibson, who voted against the bill, said that the legislation was entirely unnecessary.
"I did not hear the sponsor of the bill give one iota of evidence that a [sex-selective] abortion has taken place in South Dakota," she said. "This bill…is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist."
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