(AP News) Seeking to further restrict abortions in North Carolina, the Republican-led House voted Tuesday to approve legislation that would prohibit the carrying out of abortions on the basis of the gender of the fetus.
The House voted 79-40 in favor of the measure, which also would allow a pregnant woman or others close to her to sue the doctor for damages. Hefty fines could be levied against a doctor who doesn’t follow a court order against such sex-selective abortions and is found in contempt. Republicans who took control of the Legislature after the 2010 elections passed new abortion restrictions the following year.
Some gender-based abortions have been documented in parts of Asia, where there’s gender bias in favor of boys and against girls. Such abortions are occurring in the United States, according to bill sponsor Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, citing university studies.
“This is a very simple decision. If you believe that a baby should be aborted just because it’s a boy or just because it’s a girl … then vote against this bill,” McElraft told colleagues. Three Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
Several Democratic House members criticized the measure, arguing the bill encourages ethnic discrimination and could lead to racial profiling of women of Asian heritage. Other doctors will be worried about violating the law and may decline to perform an abortion, said Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford.
“We are putting doctors in a position now questioning the motives of these women,” Adams said during the debate. “I don’t believe that doctors would be willing to take that kind of risk.”
Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg and another bill sponsor, said racial profiling was never mentioned in creating the bill. She urged colleagues to support the bill because no one believes gender-based abortions are right.
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