To: Senate Judiciary
Subject: House Bill 1305 - Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
Date: March 12, 2013

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports House Bill 1305 to prohibit sex and disability discrimination in the womb.

House Bill 1305 furthers several important public interests that form the basis of a civil society. No matter where a person stands on abortion, we should, as a society, agree that abortion should never be used as a tool for sex-selection or the elimination of children with genetic abnormalities.

Sex-selection abortion has drastic effects on society. An estimated 163 million girls are missing in the world because of sex-selection abortions.1 The United Nations Population Fund has rightly called the practice “female infanticide.” Experts have noted that the unnatural sex-ratio balance resulting from the intentional termination of unborn females can contribute to increased violence, human trafficking, and kidnapping.

The problem of sex-selection abortion is not limited to other countries. Several studies have documented the practice of sex-selection abortions in the United States and Canada.2 One study followed pregnant women from a particular immigrant community and a shocking 89% of those carrying girls aborted during the study period. Understandably, four states have already banned sex-selection abortions.3 House Bill 1305 is a simple measure to affirm a policy of nondiscrimination based on sex.

Just as we should not tolerate abortion as a tool for sex discrimination, we should not tolerate abortion as a tool for discrimination against those with disabilities. In 1983 North Dakota became a leader when it passed its Human Rights Act and extended protection to persons with disabilities. The federal government followed in 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That protection, however, does not extend to the womb.

In an estimated ninety percent of cases, a positive test for Down Syndrome leads to an abortion. Unborn children with other genetic abnormalities suffer a similar fate. This is a betrayal of our state and nation’s commitment to respecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. If we truly believe that persons with Down Syndrome or other genetic abnormalities have the same fundamental rights as any other person, we cannot turn a blind eye to their intentional elimination prior to birth.

House Bill 1305 furthers respect for persons no matter what their sex or genetic condition. We urge a Do Pass recommendation.

1 See Mara Hvistendahl, Unnatural Selection, PublicAffairs, 2011.
2 Puri S, Adams V, Ivey S, et al. “There is such a thing as too many daughters, but not too many sons”: a qualitative study of son preference and fetal sex selection among Indian immigrants in the United States. Soc Sci Med 2011;72:1169-76. [Study involving immigrant Indian women in the U.S. found that 40% had terminated pregnancies with female fetuses and 89% of the women carrying female fetuses in their current pregnancy pursued an abortion.]
Almond D, Edlund L. Son-biased sex ratios in the 2000 United States Census.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008;105:5681-2. [An analysis of 2000 Census data found clear evidence of sex-selective abortions in what the authors called "son-biased sex ratios,” that is, a higher ratio of boys to girls than would occur in nature.]
Almond D, Edlund L, Milligan KO. “O Sister, where art thou? The role of son preference and sex choice: evidence from immigrants to Canada.”
NBER Working Paper No. 15391. Cambridge (MA): The National Bureau of Economic Research; 2009, revised Oct. 2010. [Found evidence of sex selection among Asians immigrants at higher parities if previous children were girls.]
Abrevaya , Jason, Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data (February 2008).
3 Arizona, Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania