Congress Votes on Sex-Selection Abortion Ban Tomorrow

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 29, 2012   |   11:30AM   |   Washington, DC

One day after a new video exposing how Planned Parenthood encourages women to have sex-selection abortions, the House of Representatives will vote on legislation that would ban such abortions in the United States.

The House will consider the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, a bill to ban sex-selection abortions, that was introduced by pro-life Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on February 16. Because H.R. 3541 will be considered on the Suspension Calendar, a two-thirds majority will be necessary for passage.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser condemned Planned Parenthood for its role in encouraging sex-selection abortions and said the new Live Acton video is evidence they need to be banned. The video shows abortion clinic workers employed by Planned Parenthood willing to perform abortions based on gender.

“Could there be any greater discrimination against women than targeting girls for death before birth?” Dannenfelser asked.

She told LifeNews, “Regardless of one’s position on abortion—left, right, pro-life, pro-choice—we can agree that women’s constitutional right to equal protection should, at a minimum, protect us from prenatal death. We call on Congress to immediately end the injustice of sex-selective abortion. The position should be pre-political and is common ground from which only a radical minority dissents.”

Dannenfelser said even prominent Democrats have supported such a ban, noting that in 1990, longtime abortion-rights advocate and then gubernatorial candidate Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she opposed the practice and would consider outlawing it.

In an interview with the New York Times, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented the occurrence of sex-selective abortion in India and China saying “…unfortunately, with technology, parents are able to use sonograms to determine the sex of a baby, and to abort girl children simply because they’d rather have a boy.  And those are deeply set attitudes.”

Meanwhile, the National Right to Life Committee has sent a letter to every member of Congress urging lawmakers to support the ban.

The use of abortion as a means of sex selection is a major social problem in a number of Asian countries, including China and India.  There are credible estimates that 160 million women and girls are missing from the world due to sex selection, and the figure may be even higher.  Writing in the Fall 2011 issue of The New Atlantis, political economist Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute observed, “In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.”

Multiple academic papers have put forward evidence that the practice of sex-selection by abortion is increasing in the United States, especially although not exclusively within communities of immigrants from Asia.  For example, a study by researchers at the University of Connecticut, published in Prenatal Diagnosis in March 2011, concluded, “The male to female livebirth sex ratio in the United States exceeded expected biological variation for third+ births to Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans, strongly suggesting prenatal sex selection.”

Dr. Sunita Puri and three other researchers at the University of California interviewed “65 immigrant Indian women in the United States who had pursued fetal sex selection.”  They wrote: “We found that 40% of the women interviewed had terminated prior pregnancies with female fetuses and that 89% of women carrying female fetuses in their current pregnancy pursued an abortion.”  This powerful study discusses in detail the multiple forms of pressure and outright coercion to which such women are often subjected:  “Forty women (62%) described verbal abuse from their female in laws or husbands. . . . One-third of women described past physical abuse and neglect related specifically to their failing to produce a male child.”  As a result, “women reported having multiple closely spaced pregnancies with terminations of female fetuses under pressure to have a male child.”  (“‘There is such a thing as too many daughters, but not too many sons’,” Social Science & Medicine 72 (2011), 1169-1176)

Some of the other indications that the practice is increasing in the U.S. were explored during the public hearing on H.R. 3541 conducted by the House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee on December 6, 2011.  We expect that evidence will be summarized in the official report of the Judiciary Committee on the bill, which we understand will be released today.

Of course, pro-life Members will support this legislation.  But it is to be hoped that even many Members who deem themselves “pro-choice” will recoil at the notion that “freedom of choice” must include even the choice to abort a little unborn girl, merely because she is a girl.  Members who recently have embraced contrived political rhetoric asserting they are resisting a “war on women” must reflect on whether they wish to be recorded as being defenders of the escalating war on baby girls.

To date, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona have all banned sex-selective abortion.  Similar bans have been enacted in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, India, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

With the international focus on Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese forced abortion opponent who recently escaped house arrest and was allowed to leave China for the United States after being jailed, beaten and confined to his home for exposing massive forced abortion campaigns, the bill is well-timed.

After the House committee approved the bill, Rep. Franks said, “As Americans, all of us know in our hearts that aborting a little baby because he or she happens to be the ‘wrong color’ or because she is a little girl instead of a little boy is fundamentally wrong, and represents a betrayal of the precious truth that all human beings are created equal, with the Imago Dei stamped on their souls.”

He added, “I know when the subject is related in any way to abortion, the doors of reason and human compassion in our minds and hearts often close, and the humanity of the unborn and the inhumanity of what is being done to them can sometimes no longer be seen. But this is the civil rights battle that will define our generation. At the very least, we should be able to agree that allowing the lives of unborn children to be torn from them simply because they happen to be the ‘wrong color’ or the ‘wrong sex’ is not who we are as Americans.”

A few years ago, a national study showed the possibility that the practice of sex-selection abortions has made its way from Asia to the United States. Researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of the National Academy of Sciences say their analysis of the 2000 Census shows the odds prematurely increasing for Asian-American families from China, Korea and India to have a boy if they already have a girl child.

The data “suggest that in a sub-population with a traditional son preference, the technologies are being used to generate male births when preceding births are female,” they wrote in the paper.

Previously, abortion advocates not only opposed the bill in great hysteria but also denied the very existence of sex selection abortions. Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, called it a “trumped up bill for a trumped up problem.”  Meanwhile at the pro-abortion blog Jezebel, a writer called sex selection abortions “a problem rampant only in its rampant nonexistence.”



In the debate over Oklahoma’s ban on sex selection abortion, Mary Spaulding Balch, State Legislative Director for the National Right to Life Committee, said, “So-called ‘pro-choice’ feminists will show their true colors if they oppose sex selection abortion bans since the world knows ‘sex selection’ is code for ‘search and destroy’ unborn females.”

A recent poll conducted by the Lozier Institute found that 77% of respondents would support the enactment of laws prohibiting abortion in cases where “the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.” Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona already have laws on the books which prohibit this practice, according to the Lozier Institute.

Meanwhile, a 2006 poll showed a majority of Americans would likely support the bill. A 2006 Zogby International poll showed that 86% of the American public desired a law to ban sex-selection abortion. The poll surveyed a whopping 30,117 respondents in 48 states.