Legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on Wednesday could threaten medical professional involved in abortions with jail time, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the biggest pro-choice advocacy groups.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) to the U.S. House in December 2011. Under the legislation, a doctor who performed an abortion could face up to five-years in prison if race or sex was a factor in the woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. Medical professionals who failed to report a suspected sex- or race-based abortion to law enforcement would face up to a one-year prison sentence as well.
“The Franks bill exploits the very real problems of sex discrimination and gender inequity while failing to offer any genuine solutions that would eliminate disparities in health-care access and information,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Rather than attacking a woman’s right to choose, lawmakers with a sincere interest in addressing gender bias should support policies that work to combat the bias and stereotypes that continue to plague our society. This alternative approach would unify – not divide – our country and could achieve important advances without taking away any woman’s right to make her own personal, private medical decisions.”
The bill claims that immigrants from countries where sex-selective abortions are prevalent, such as China, are practicing “female feticide” in the United States. Furthermore, it warns the practice is causing “an unnatural sex-ratio imbalance,” which could lead to “increased violence and militancy” in the United States.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum has said it is strongly opposed to PRENDA. They claim the bill encourages racial profiling by doctors.
“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that pretends to address inequality while actually making it worse,” NAPAWF Executive Director Miriam Yeung said in February. “If sponsors really wanted to address the issue of sex selection, they would work to raise the status of women by eliminating gender inequity. We know some people, including some in our community, would prefer to have sons because of gender inequity that continues to exist in this country. Banning abortion is not the solution.”
Anti-abortion activists released a video on Tuesday that they claim shows proof that Planned Parenthood is helping women obtain sex-selective abortions.
[Rep. Trent Franks photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]