Sex-Selective Abortion Bans: Anti-Immigration or Anti-Abortion?

Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Volume 16, No. 1, Winter/Spring 2015

Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-09

20 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2015 Last revised: 10 Nov 2015

See all articles by Sital Kalantry

Sital Kalantry

Cornell University - Law School

Date Written: March 20, 2015

Abstract

A new wave of legislation is sweeping state legislatures across the United States: laws prohibiting health professionals from providing an abortion if they believe a woman is seeking one because she does not want to have a child of a certain sex. Eight states have enacted such laws, and nearly half of all state legislatures in the country have considered them since 2009 and a bill is currently pending in the U.S. Congress.

The preamble of these bills claim that these bans are needed to curb the tendency among Asian-American women to abort female fetuses consistent with practices in China and India. The Asian American population is the fastest growing racial group in the United States today. It is natural to question whether these bans are being adopted in response to the growing Asian population in the United States or because of anti-abortion sentiments. To test the hypothesis, I determined whether there is an association between whether a state considers and/or passes a ban on sex-selective abortion and the growth rate of Asian immigrants by state. Indeed, I found an association between high growth rates of Asian immigration and the introduction and/or passage of sex selective abortion bans. But I also found that state legislatures that had passed anti-abortion laws as of 2012 were also more likely to introduce and/or pass sex selective abortion bans.

Upon further probing using a logit regression analysis for the binary outcome of passage or consideration of anti-abortion legislation, the passage of other anti-abortion legislation is significantly associated with consideration anti-abortion legislation, whereas the growth in Asian immigration is not. Thus, anti-abortion sentiments appear to be driving these bans more than the growth rate of Asian immigration in the states.

Keywords: Abortion, law, immigration, gender, choices, restrictions, Asian Americans

Suggested Citation

Kalantry, Sital, Sex-Selective Abortion Bans: Anti-Immigration or Anti-Abortion? (March 20, 2015). Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Volume 16, No. 1, Winter/Spring 2015; Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2581695

Sital Kalantry (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

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