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Arizona Sued for Targeting Women of Color

Rep. Steve Montenegro

Rep. Steve Montenegro

By Floyd Alvin Galloway

PHOENIX (NNPA) – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit May 29, on behalf of the NAACP of Maricopa County and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) challenging a state law that relies on harmful racial stereotypes to shame and discriminate against Black women and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women who decide to end their pregnancies.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Steve Montenegro, (R-Litchfield Park) is based on stereotypes that Black and API women cannot be trusted to make personal health care decisions without scrutiny by the state.

“This law takes the personal and private health care decisions of women of color and exploits them for political gain,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and lead counsel in the lawsuit. “But our Constitution flatly prohibits states from passing laws based on racist stereotypes.”

The case alleges the law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. “The 14th Amendment says laws passed with a discriminatory intent and racial stereotypes cannot stand, period. This law is unconstitutional,” said Dan Pochoda, an ACLU lawyer.

During the law’s passage, supporters cited higher rates of abortion among Black women as evidence that Black women either were motivated by a discriminatory intent to prevent the birth of Black children, or were being duped into having abortions as part of a racist plot. Both claims are baseless and offensive states the ACLU.

Some say it’s another attempt by the conservative group ALEC, (American Legislative Exchange Council) to thwart the freedom of people of color. The organization composed of conservative legislators, businesses and foundations which drafts ultra-conservative legislation for state legislatures.

Arizona, a beacon for ultra-conservative legislation that adversely affects people of color and women, is the first state to pass the race law.

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