By Rachel Stoltzfoos
While attempting to argue it’s “bad for women” to ban abortions on the basis of sex, pro-choice Professor Carol Sanger actually ends up explaining why it’s logically inconsistent for feminists to oppose the bans.
Legislators in eight states have already banned abortions on the basis of the unborn child’s sex, and a number of other states are considering the ban. Pro-choice activists decry the bans as thinly veiled attempts to take away a woman’s “right” to abortion, but legislators justify the bans by pointing to laws against sex discrimination. It’s a new pro-life strategy that feminists are struggling to fight.
“It’s very clever,” Sanger told Slate, referring to the strategy in a piece designed to explain why sex-selective abortion bans are “terrible for women” and unconstitutional. “They’re a much bolder move in terms of challenging the basic abortion right.” (RELATED: Louisiana Is About To Ban ‘Dismemberment’ Abortions)
“These laws say to women: Hey, we thought you cared about discrimination against women,” she adds. “If you do, support these laws, and put your money where your mouth is.”
Sanger avoids the substance of the logical trap in her argument, saying the laws should be opposed because they are a disingenuous attempt to “call women out” for having abortions. Pressed about the merits of the ban itself, politics aside, Sanger responds there’s no evidence women are having sex-selective abortions and reiterates her belief that legislators are trying to “hack away” at abortion “rights.”
“It’s meant to say, ‘Well, if you support abortion rights, you aren’t really much of a feminist,’” Sanger told Slate. “And it’s a wedge issue: ‘Let’s start with the girl fetuses, that’ll shut feminists up. Then let’s move to disability and ban abortion based on that.’ Both categories make women seem cruel if they want to abort.”
Indiana became the most recent state to ban abortions on the basis of sex, as well as abnormalities such as Down syndrome in March.