As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of the most important child in history, pro-life Americans would be wise to renew their emphasis on an element of the abortion debate that strongly favors their side: banning abortions based on the sex or race of the unborn child.
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona, has filed a bill that would accomplish those ends. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act would criminalize sex-selection abortion in the United States, subjecting physicians who perform such abortions to fines and imprisonment for up to five years. Organizations that perform sex-selection abortions would forfeit federal funding under the proposal. Women who seek the abortions would be exempt from prosecution.
The sad irony is that the same technological advances that have bolstered the pro-life cause — ultrasound images — have promulgated sex-selection abortion. Parents may now more easily determine the gender of their unborn child, and opt for an abortion accordingly.
Sex-selection abortion is more prevalent among Americans who originate from countries where the practice is legal. H.R. 3541 outlines the problem:
In a March 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Columbia University economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund examined the sex ratio of United States-born children and found `evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage’. The data revealed obvious `son preference’ in the form of unnatural sex-ratio imbalances within certain segments of the United States population, primarily those segments tracing their ethnic or cultural origins to countries where sex-selection abortion is prevalent. The evidence strongly suggests that some Americans are exercising sex-selection abortion practices within the United States consistent with discriminatory practices common to their country of origin, or the country to which they trace their ancestry. While sex-selection abortions are more common outside the United States, the evidence reveals that female feticide is also occurring in the United States.
The opportunity for the pro-life cause lies in liberals’ vehement opposition to the sex-selection ban. To maintain a logically coherent argument, pro-choicers must defend sex-selection or race-based abortion. Pro-abortion ideology is rooted in the belief that parents’ wishes — specifically, the mother’s — are the preeminent factor. Equally important is the creed that a fetus isn’t an unborn child, but merely a collection of pre-human matter no more worthy of human dignity than afterbirth.
Based on those assumptions, pro-choicers must regard sex-selection abortion as both legal and morally permissible. Using their own rationale, how is deciding to terminate a pregnancy because the parents believe they have too many children different from terminating a pregnancy because the unborn child is female? If a woman’s choice is most important, and the fetus is not a human being, there is no moral distinction between the two.
That being the case, pro-abortion forces have their hands tied on this issue because an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose sex-selection abortion. A Zogby poll from 2006 put opposition at 86 percent. Just 10 percent of Americans said the practice should be legal.
Most Americans — Vice President Joe Biden being a high-profile exception — have a visceral negative reaction to China’s one-child policy. It’s rare to find a public policy matter today that has so lop-sided a divide.
Yet leftist groups, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, have blitzed Franks’ bill, calling it an attempt to circumvent access to abortion. “This bill is a cynical and offensive attempt to evoke race and sex discrimination when actually it’s about taking women’s rights away,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
That argument carries weight with the far-left spectrum of the pro-choice cause, but it won’t fly with the general American public that decidedly supports restrictions on abortion. The logic isn’t even coherent: How is ensuring that more females are born discriminate against women? On the flipside, how does aiding the termination of unborn females help women’s liberation?
Banning sex-selection abortion is an important plank of the pro-life cause that has widespread appeal. Along with state-level laws that mandate parental consent for a minor’s abortion, or require that women be fully informed about their options prior to the procedure, a sex-selection abortion ban carries the support of a majority of Americans.
Pro-choice extremists will continue to oppose a ban — and continue to hurt their cause.