Planned Parenthood Opposes Ban on Sex-Selection Abortions

National   Steven Ertelt   May 31, 2012   |   11:55AM    Washington, DC

The nation’s biggest abortion business is calling on members of Congress to oppose a bill they are voting on today that would ban sex-selection abortions in the United States.

The position comes as no surprise given that two new investigative videos show Planned Parenthood staffers okaying sex-selection abortions when asked by reporters posing as clients seeking one.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood joined NARAL, which also opposes the sex-selection abortion ban, relying on some of the same arguments it makes for opposing bans on abortion in general, saying it interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and that abortion practitioners shouldn’t be charged.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America today said it strongly opposes legislation in the House that would impose harmful restrictions on women’s health care and interfere with the doctor/patient relationship. Planned Parenthood urges members to vote no on H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA).

The bill’s sponsor, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), has a long history of opposing safe and legal abortion.  The aim of his legislation is ultimately to limit a woman’s access to the full spectrum of reproductive health options, in addition to criminalizing doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

The bill also fails to address the real causes of inequality and health disparities and in fact takes aim at the very communities it claims to help.  Racism and gender discrimination are serious issues, yet this bill would cast suspicion on doctors that serve communities facing the greatest health disparities, many of which are minority communities.

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“As the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows all too well that women still face gender discrimination in this country,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “We oppose sex selection abortion.  But this bill does nothing to advance protections against discrimination and instead will have the result of further shaming and stigmatizing women. ”

“Planned Parenthood strongly condemns any coercive reproductive policies,” said Richards.  “This legislation will impose harmful restrictions on a woman’s access to care and limit her choices as she makes personal medical decisions. Furthermore, it would intrude on the critical nature of the doctor/patient relationship and interfere with a doctor’s ability to provide nonjudgmental, high-quality care for women.

“In these tough economic times, Congress should be focusing its efforts on solutions that improve the lives of women and their families, not imposing increased restrictions on women’s rights,” she added.

Its opposition comes after after a new video exposing how Planned Parenthood encourages women to have sex-selection abortions. A second video showing another Planned Parenthood clinic okaying sex-selection abortions has followed it up.

President Barack Obama appears to oppose the ban on sex-selection abortions that the House of Representatives debated yesterday and will be voting on today.

National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson was upset to learn Obama opposes the common-sense bill, telling LifeNews:  “It is appalling, but not surprising, that President Obama now stands with the pro-abortion political committees and his Hollywood donors, rather than with the coerced women, and their unborn daughters, who are victimized in sex-selection abortions.”

Johnson says the White House statement falsely claimed that the bill would “subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations” for an abortion.

NRLC told members of Congress in a new letter the bill is very much needed.

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.”

In another powerful study published in 2011, 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 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)

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.”

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.

The bill would make it a federal offense to knowingly do any one of the following four things: (1) perform an abortion, at any time in pregnancy, “knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex or gender of the child”; (2) use “force or threat of force. . . for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion”; (3) solicit or accept funds to perform a sex-selection abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the U.S. or across state lines for this purpose. However, “A woman upon whom a sex-selection abortion is performed may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable for any violation . . .”

The bill also specifically states, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion, absent the healthcare provider having knowledge or information that the abortion is being sought based on the sex or gender of the child.”