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Should Women Be Able to Abort a Fetus Just Because It’s Female?

by Emma GreenThe Atlantic
May 16th, 2016

Over the past year, Indiana hasn’t exactly been a leader in anti-discrimination law. Last spring, the state faced massive protests and boycott threats for legislation that may have facilitated discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. And this winter, nascent efforts to pass LGBT protections in hiring, housing, and public accommodations quickly failed.

But in March, the state did pass nearly unprecedented discrimination protections for one group: unborn fetuses. The new law prohibits abortions sought because of “race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” Doctors who perform them can be held liable in a lawsuit and sanctioned by Indiana’s medical boards.

Pro-life advocates celebrated the law’s passage. Indiana’s legislators wanted to make sure “ours is a policy that values life no matter who you are, where you come from or what your disability might be,” as the bill’s sponsor, Casey Cox, said.

But whether they intended to or not, these lawmakers exposed a set of difficult moral questions that pro-choice progressives tend to ignore in their quest to defend legal abortion. Should couples be able to abort their female fetuses—and it’s almost always female fetuses—in the hopes of having the boy they really wanted? Should a mom, ashamed at having a mixed-race baby, be able to abort because of race? Should parents give up on a baby with Down syndrome? What about Tay-Sachs, which almost always kills children by the time they turn four?

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