PHOENIX, AZ -- Arizona has become the first state to outlaw abortions performed on the basis of the sex or race of an unborn child.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law March 29 legislation that makes the performance of a sex- or raced-based abortion a felony. A doctor who performs such a procedure could receive as much as a seven-year prison sentence and lose his medical license, according to ABC News.
Matthew Benson, spokesman for Brewer, said the governor "believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable -- the unborn -- and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record," ABC reported.
Critics charged the law is unnecessary, saying sex-selection abortions may occur in other countries but there is no evidence they take place in Arizona. China is the most infamous example of a country plagued by sex-selection abortions. That country's coercive, one-child policy has produced a huge gender imbalance that social scientists say will result in an estimated 30 to 40 million more marriage-age men than women by 2020.
Supporters of the measure could point, however, to a 2008 study by Cornell University economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund. Their research found American-born children of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian parents were more likely than those of white parents to be boys if the first children in the families were girls, according to ABC. The third child in such communities was 50 percent more likely to be a boy if the first two children were girls. The study suggested those statistics provide evidence sex-selection abortion is being practiced in such communities, the researchers said.
The Arizona law makes sense, Edlund told ABC.
"Our society does not think it's OK to abort based on sex," he said.