A bill that targeted undocumented Asian women who come to California just to abort unwanted female fetuses on the taxpayers' dime – an alleged phenomenon unsupported by even the anecdotal evidence offered up by the legislation's supporters – was defeated yesterday.
AB 2336 by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, a Republican from Bakersfield, was nixed in the lower house's Committee on Health, a representative for the politician said.
The law would have made it illegal to knowingly perform an abortion for a mother who did not want to give birth to a girl:
The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum called the legislation “deceptive” and charged that it targeted “California's rapidly growing Asian-American population.”
The California ProLife Council co-sponsored the bill. The group indeed contends that California's legal environment “prompts some Indian women to get on a plane to have their abortions in our state, only to return home after killing their baby girl.”
“It's free in California,” the organization's executive director, Brian Johnston, told us. “You don't have to be a resident. You don't have to be a citizen.”
We asked him what evidence existed to prove that undocumented Asian immigrants were coming to California to have taxpayer-funded, gender-specific abortions, as he contends.
He mentioned the case of a Yuba City woman accused of killing her mother-in-law in 2012 because, the defendant argued, the older woman was pressuring her to abort an unborn girl. However, in that case, there's no evidence that the woman came to California to do just that – in fact she argued she never wanted to. And she didn't end up having an abortion. She gave birth.
Another case on the ProLife Council's website is the story of Angelique Guarneri, a young woman from Long Beach who says her pregnant mother came to California from India to abort her. This was two decades ago. And it didn't happen.
When we pointed out that these were just anecdotes (that didn't even pan out to prove the ProLife Council's case), Johnston blew up and blamed the media for failing to grasp his truth.
He also said that former President Jimmy Carter himself backed up the claim. He pointed to an interview Carter gave to David Letterman. In it, Carter bemoans the global existence of gender-selective abortion, but when the Late Night host asks where it happens, Carter says several places, including Asia. But he also says, “I don't know” about the United States.
After angrily defending the substance of anecdotal evidence, Johnston hung up on us.
A small UC San Francisco study in 2011 found that there are some Indian women in the United States who have had gender-influenced abortion, but it did not state they came to California specifically for it or to get the procedures done for “free.”
Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said the California proposal …
… increased scrutiny around our motives for seeking abortion care. This scrutiny exploits racial stereotypes and encourages racial profiling by inciting doctors to assume an AAPI woman is seeking an abortion because of the sex of her fetus
And, alluding to our effort to find evidence that a problem of Asian immigrants seeking Golden State, gender-specific abortions, she says laws like this are just a ploy by pro-lifers:
The 'sex-selective abortion ban' is one of the anti-choice movement's newest tactics, and it is spreading in the states at an alarming rate. Its proponents misleadingly co-opt the language of equality in an effort to pass measures that undermine reproductive rights without a fight. Although these bills purport to support gender equity, they do the opposite.
Assemblywoman Grove is not exactly a major threat in the legislative world, even if she's good at getting headlines. Her last big splash came when she introduced an Arizona-like proposal that also would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religious freedom.
And like the Arizona bill, and AB 2336, it didn't make it.