The bill would ban sex-selective abortions, which experts have demonstrated are on the rise and predict that it will continue to be a trend in the United States.
Currently, women can receive late-term abortions for the purposes of sex selection. While U.S. law prohibits sex discrimination in employment, education, housing, health insurance coverage and athletics, there is no such protection to the unborn child. PRENDA highlights a particularly egregious and systematic form of violence against women and their unborn daughters, who are overwhelmingly the target of sex-selected abortions.
PRENDA imposes criminal penalties on doctors who knowingly provide sex-selective abortions, and those who persuade women to seek such abortions. It also bars federal funding from any organization which does not comply with the law, and would require medical professionals to report any suspected rule violation.
Heritage Action supports H.R.3541 and will include is as a key vote in our scorecard.
In the United States, we take pride in our role as a leader in the world on a wide array of human rights issues. We profess to set the standard on the preservation of fundamental human rights. And generally speaking, we back that profession up with action. On most issues, the United States’ beacon of freedom shines bright and attracts countless who are fleeing oppression and human rights violations to our shores.
There is at least one human rights issue, however, where the United States lags far behind, and on which we are attracting visitors for all the wrong reasons. It is the issue of elective abortions for no other reason than the baby is of the “wrong” gender. While most of the industrialized world outlaws elective abortion based on this factor, the United States does not. The result of this failure is that we now find ourselves not only allowing these barbaric acts within our own population, but also as the international destination of choice for those who seek to end the life of a child that is unwanted simply because of the gender of the baby. We are becoming a tourist destination for these acts that are criminal in most of the civilized world.
Fortunately, Congressman Trent Franks (AZ) is attempting to do something about it. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill he authored: H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA). This bill would outlaw abortions based on sex-selection. It would also outlaw solicitation of or participation in such abortions.
Our Declaration of Independence proudly claims that we believe all men are created equal and that our Creator has given each of us a right to pursue life. With this as our motivation, we loudly (and rightly) decry other nations such as China who have used tactics like a “one-child policy” to control population growth. But even China – a country where millions of little baby girls have been aborted because of their gender – has a tougher law on sex-selection techniques than the United States. It’s a shameful place for this great nation to be.
No matter where you stand on the issue of abortion in general, this should be an easy call. Are we going to stand by while our daughters are “terminated” because they are not our sons? Are we going to tolerate it that others are travelling to the United States to end the life of their baby girl because a baby boy has more “value” in their eyes?
These questions are at the very heart of what it should mean to be born in America, the land of the free. If we don’t choose now to reject the path of sex-based abortions, we will lose the foundation on which we stand.
We at the American Center for Law and Justice call on all U.S. Representatives to stand together to outlaw these horrific acts, and call on the U.S. Senate to follow suit. Our future generations literally depend on it.
Dear Member of Congress:
On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, the House of Representatives will take up, under Suspension of the Rules, a bill to prohibit the use of abortion as a method of sex selection in the United States – the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 3541). The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nationwide federation of state right-to-life organizations, strongly urges you to vote to pass this important legislation. NRLC reserves the right to include the roll call on H.R. 3541 in the NRLC scorecard of roll calls on key right-to-life issues for the 112 Congress.
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.
Section 3 of H.R. 3541 would amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code to make it an offense, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, to knowingly do any one of the following four things: (1) perform an abortion “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. The bill explicitly provides, “A woman upon whom a sex-selection abortion is performed may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable for any violation of this section, or for a conspiracy to violate this section.” The bill also explicitly provides that healthcare providers do not have any “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.”
Please note that H.R. 3541 no longer contains the original parallel provisions dealing with
abortions that are solicited, coerced, or performed on the basis of the race of the unborn child.
The impact of the abortion industry on minority communities, an important issue in its own right, has been set aside for another day. The bill now deals solely with sex-selection abortions.
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.
NRLC urges you to support the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, and reserves the right to include the roll call on passage in the NRLC scorecard of key right-to-life roll calls of the 112th Congress. A “present” vote has the same effect on a Member’s score as a “no” vote.
May 29, 2012
Dear Members of the House of Representatives:
On Wednesday, May 30, the House will vote on H.R. 3541, the so-called Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. We represent South Asian women’s organizations that work every day to end gender based oppression, coercion, and violence in our community. We strongly oppose this attack on women’s reproductive choice, which would harm and exploit the women we serve.
The legislators who support this bill have never been champions of women’s rights. In fact, they have voted against basic measures like the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Violence Against Women Act, which would truly address the sexism that exists in this country. Though they pretend this bill’s purpose is to protect women of color, it is clear their agenda is banning all abortions. Banning abortions for at least some women—Asian women—is a way to get them closer to their goal.
H.R. 3541 bans sex-selective abortions. Doctors who provide these abortions could be punished for up to five years in jail. If this bill passes, South Asian women will have their motives scrutinized by abortion providers. In short, it encourages racial profiling in the doctor’s office. In fear of facing jail time, doctors could subject any woman who appears Asian to questioning other women would not have to endure, and may even deny care. The women we serve already face disproportionate barriers to quality, comprehensive medical care and treatment. We do not need another obstacle.
We condemn the gender bias that can lead to pressure to have a child of a particular sex. But there are better, and more effective, ways to combat gender bias than taking away a woman’s reproductive choice. First, abortion bans in other countries have not successfully addressed this problem. Second, Asian American women’s organizations like ours are already working against the root cause of sex selection by conducting and supporting programs that build women’s economic power and leadership skills, enable women to empower themselves, and decrease gender stereotyping. These are the type of measures recommended by experts like the United Nations and the World Health Organization. If H.R. 3541 sponsors truly want to promote gender equity, they would support programs like ours.
Moreover, even if abortion bans were a viable solution, for women facing abuse and pressure to bear a male child, being forced by the state to bear a female child could simply result in exacerbated violence in the home. Replacing one form of coercion with another only puts the women we serve at greater risk.
H.R. 3541 is an egregious exploitation of Asian American women. By perpetuating stereotypes of what they believe our culture is, and punishing us for it, sponsors are trying to move forward their anti-choice agenda.
We are appalled at this attempt to limit the right to choose, and ask that you stand with us in opposition.
Please vote NO on H.R. 3541.
Arizona South Asians for Safe Families Ashakiran
Sakhi for South Asian Women
South Asian Americans Leading Together
Congress is currently considering H.R. 3541, or the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PreNDA). Contrary to its title, the bill would use stereotypes to unfairly discriminate against women of color and immigrants.
Isn't banning sex-selection abortion a good thing?
Sex-selection abortions, and sex-based discrimination in general, is a real issue in this country and around the world. However, evidence and studies have shown that the programs which work to reduce sex-selection abortions and other behaviors are those which actually empower women, not criminalize their health care and gut their sense of autonomy and responsibility. Sex-selection abortion bans have never worked to actually reduce unequal birth rates between males and females.
How does this legislation unfairly target women of color?
White women do not typically have children of color and would therefore be less likely to seek an abortion based on the race of their fetus. As well, white women are victims of the sex-selection stereotype far less often than Asian immigrant women, and so doctors—because under this law they would be required to determine the reasons the abortion is being sought—are less likely to target white people than they are immigrants.
The advocates of the bill say that they are responding to a (faulty) statistic that many Planned Parenthood clinics are in neighborhoods of color, and that they’re trying to execute a genocide in the ghettos of the United States. That statistic is wrong and misleading for a number of reasons, but that’s the rationale they have used. The pro-choice community is seeing this bill, with its familiar awkward testimonies and anti-choice advocates, as simply another way that the rights of women are the subject of attack.