ByÂ Cheryl Wetzstein-The Washington Times
CongressÂ is set to wade into one of the most sensitive topics in the abortion debate, with a House vote Wednesday on a bill that would ban abortions that are performed solely because of an unborn childâ€™s sex.
Pro-life advocates say sex-selection abortion amounts to a â€œwar on baby girls,â€ and maintain that the practice – which is outlawed but still common in countries such asÂ IndiaÂ andÂ ChinaÂ – is on the rise in the United States.
â€œThe real war on women occurs every day all over the world, even here in the United States,â€ saidÂ Susan Armacost, legislative director of the Wisconsin Right to Life.
Worldwide, more than 100 million girls are estimated to be â€œmissing,â€ and a first-of-its kind study byÂ University of TexasÂ economics professorJason AbrevayaÂ estimated that more than 2,000 girls were â€œmissingâ€ among Asian women who gave birth in California between 1991 and 2004.
But pro-choice advocates counter that the Houseâ€™s Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) is just another attempt to curb the right to an abortion, and doesnâ€™t address the underlying cultural and economic behaviors that feed the so-called â€œson preferenceâ€ in some cultures.
â€œWe will not be used as a weapon in the war on women,â€ saidÂ Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Womenâ€™s Forum. Sex-selection abortion bans havenâ€™t worked elsewhere, she said, butÂ South KoreaÂ saw its sex-ratio return to near-normal levels after the country changed property laws, expanded economic growth and launched a â€œLove Your Daughterâ€ campaign.
The House bill would criminalize the â€œbarbaricâ€ practice of aborting a child solely because of its sex, and makes it illegal to coerce, fund or transport a pregnant woman to have such an abortion. Women who have such abortions would not face prosecution, and health-care providers would not be required to ask why a woman is having an abortion.
â€œThis is an issue upon which all Americans should be able to find agreement, regardless of our party affiliations or even our beliefs about abortion,â€ saidÂ Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican and lead sponsor of the bill.
PRENDA is being brought to the House floor Wednesday under a fast-track procedure known as a suspension of the rules, and thus would require a two-thirds majority to pass – a tall order for the current body, which is split 242 Republicans to 190 Democrats, with three vacancies.
The measure would face even longer odds in the Democrat-controlledSenate, where most give it no chance of passage.
The House vote follows the release of a video taken surreptitiously in April at a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic by anti-abortion activistÂ Lila Roseâ€™s Live Action group, which purportedly showed an employee of the organization counseling a woman contemplating a sex-selection abortion.
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