U.S. Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has introduced the Senate version of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would make it illegal to obtain an abortion due to a gender preference.
Vitter’s bill has 26 co-sponsors and is similar to legislation the House supported with a majority vote that ultimately fell short because Democrats would not go along with a measure that bans sex-selection abortions.
“It’s flat out morally wrong to assign different values to unborn babies’ lives based on gender, but believe it or not, it happens,” said Vitter. “We should have zero tolerance for this kind of discrimination.”
Vitter said his Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act would bring the U.S. closer to eradicating gender discrimination. It would authorize civil actions by fathers and maternal grandparents (if the mother is a minor) whose unborn children and grandchildren are victims of gender discrimination abortions. The bill would also provide civil remedies to women who are intimidated, manipulated, or forced into receiving such an abortion, and it would require medical and mental health professionals to report suspicion or knowledge of such an abortion.
The senator said Asia has already lost over 160 million unborn baby girls to gender discrimination abortions and, according to a 2009 study in the American Economic Journal, over the span of 13 years at least 2,000 Asian American baby girls were lost in the United States to gender discrimination abortions.
Democrats in the House of Representatives prevented passage of a bill that would ban sex-selection abortions. The legislation needed a two-thirds vote and Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the legislation after President Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood came out in opposition.
With a 246-168 vote, the bill did not obtain the two-thirds majority necessary to pass. Republicans voted for the bill on a 226-7 margin while Democrats opposed banning sex-selection abortions on 161-20 vote margin.
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, the bill says “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.”
Leading pro-life groups were aghast that Democrats would stand in the way of passing what should be a common sense bill.
Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President for Family Research Council Action (FRC Action), had the following to say at the time: “We are deeply saddened that the U.S. House of Representatives would vote to keep sex-selection abortion legal in this country. That anyone on either side of the political aisle would vote against a bill preventing gendercide in the United States is profoundly troubling. Given that CDC data suggests sex-selection abortion is occurring in our country, and a recent undercover video released this week by Live Action showing Planned Parenthood’s willingness to facilitate a sex-selection abortion, the American public cannot ignore this sexist practice.”
“But because of lobbying by Planned Parenthood and the White House, the bill to protect against sex-selection abortion failed. We applaud the 246 Members on both sides of the aisle who voted for the bill. We thank Rep. Trent Franks and the Republican leadership for holding a vote on this legislation to ban this tragic and discriminatory practice. We will continue to work with them to pass this legislation in the future, so that pre-born women across the nation will be protected from gendercide and sex discrimination,” McClusky concluded.
Obama’s opposition came 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.
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 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.