The U.S. House of Representatives it set to vote Thursday on a bill outlawing sex-selective abortions.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or PRENDA, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., could subject doctors who perform abortions to jail time if they do not determine whether the child's sex was a factor in the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
Democrats have heavily criticized PRENDA, calling it a veiled attempt at further restricting a woman's right to choose by outlawing a legal practice in the U.S. They also question the necessity of the bill, citing statistics pointing to nearly non-existent numbers of American sex-selective abortions.
The text of bill draws heavily on the culture of sex-selective abortion in China, India and other countries with "son preference" and states this practice is being brought by new immigrants to the United States. The bill relies heavily on a 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The [report's] 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 bill states.
The bill adds, "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."
Contrary to the report cited in the bill, other studies have shown a remarkably balanced sex ratio in the United States, largely unchanged since the 1940s, of 105 boys to 100 girls. In countries such as China where sex-selective abortion is prevalent, the sex ratio is much more skewed, at 117 boys for every 100 girls born.
Additionally, information released by the Centers for Disease Control in February showed 91.5 percent of U.S. abortions in 2007 were performed before the sex of the child can even be determined, at 13 weeks of gestation.
Abortion rights activists also worry the bill could cause there to be an increase of instances of ethnic discrimination. They also question the enforcement of the bill, claiming it would limit the ability of doctors to perform their necessary roles if they are meant to police the thoughts of their patients, putting them in an awkward position as a health care provider.
But recent events have spurred Republicans in Congress to encourage a vote on the bill. Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, famous for fighting China's one child policy that leads to many of the country's sex-selective abortion, arrived in the U.S. this month on a deal with the Chinese government.
Additionally, a video released this week by anti-abortion activist group Live Action supposedly shows a Texas Planned Parenthood counselor overlooking a request for a sex-selective abortion.
After answering questions on gender and gestation period, highlighting that the non-profit does not deny abortion based on the mother's reason for termination, the counselor says "Good luck and I hope you do get your boy."
The House is due to vote on the bill Thursday. Passage is unsure because a two-thirds majority is needed. Even if the bill goes through, it will most likely not pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com