Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) to the Senate on Wednesday, less than two weeks after identical legislation was defeated in the House.
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.
“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.
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 said it was strongly opposed to PRENDA. They claimed 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.
Democrats alleged the bill was a cynical attempt to use issues like racism and sexism to make abortion illegal. Libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) also blasted the legislation.
“When did Republicans start supporting hate-crime legislation?” he said. “Hate-crime bills, like H R 3541, are apparently okay if they have to do with a baby’s gender but not okay if they have to do with a person’s skin color or sexual orientation. Or maybe they’re okay if it’s an election year and Republicans are trying to make the President look like he doesn’t care about women. I am appalled and outraged that we would take an issue as sacred as life and use it so cynically as a political weapon.”
“I’m pro-life, and I think all abortion should be illegal,” Amash explained. “But Congress should not criminalize thought. And this bill won’t stop a single abortion if it becomes law. Every person seeking an abortion simply will sign a form stating her motive is not the sex of the baby.”