This afternoon, the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would make sex-selective abortions a federal crime. This vote comes shortly after pro-life group Live Action released two undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood workers encouraging sex-selective abortions.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Trent Franks R-Ariz., would have made aborting a baby based on its sex or coercing a woman into an abortion based on the baby’s gender a federal crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Bringing a woman into the United States for the purpose of a sex-selective abortion also would be a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill would not have punished the woman seeking the abortion.
246 representatives voted for the bill and 168 voted against, but the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass and fell short by 30 votes.
Republican supporters of the bill argue that there is clear evidence in the US of women aborting their baby due to its female gender, especially amongst women who come from cultures where having a male is preferable. This practice is well known in countries such as India and China, although sex-selective abortions have been banned due to the imbalance in the gender ratio it causes. In the wake of Live Action’s video showing employees telling customers how to get a sex-selective abortion, US abortion giant, Planned Parenthood, has refused to ban the practice of sex-selective abortions.
Democrats opposed the bill because they say the evidence of sex-selective abortions is limited. They also voiced fears that doctors would be policing their patients. Earlier, White House spokesperson Jay Carney spoke about the sex-selective abortion debate, stating that President Obama did not support a ban because he believes the vote to be purely ideological. Carney also expressed the president’s reluctance to insert federal law into private and personal decisions.
Republican legislators have noted that this fight comes in the middle of Democratic claims of the so-called Republican war on women, yet given the opportunity to protect unborn women, Democrats have refused to do so.