OLYMPIA -- Abortions based on the gender of the fetus would be banned under a bill approved by a divided Senate committee Wednesday evening.
Republicans on the Senate Law and Justice Committee approved a proposal that would level civil or criminal penalties against doctors who performed so-called sex-selection abortions. Democrats voted no, saying there was no evidence that such abortions are performed in Washington and the bill was racially motivated against Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, called it a very modest step to restrict abortion, and said he had a long-standing belief lawmakers "have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us." Studies quoted by supporters of the bill at an earlier hearing indicate such abortions do occur, he added.
Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said the bill could violate the doctor-patient relationship if physicians were required to ask whether an abortion was being performed for sex selection.
The bill was sent to the Rules Committee, which will decide whether to schedule it for a vote in the full Senate.