The US House of Representatives voted 246-168 yesterday against the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill that sought to impose criminal penalties on doctors who perform an abortion for a woman who seeks the procedure on the basis of the gender of the fetus. The bill would have also prohibited federal funding for organizations that do not comply and medical professionals would have been required to report any suspicions of sex-selective abortions.
The bill was opposed by many women's advocacy groups and the White House because of the harsh restrictions it imposed and because it subjected women seeking abortions to greater scrutiny. Opponents argued that Asian-American women in particular would face discrimination because of the prevalence of sex-selective abortions in Asian countries. In response to the bill, a White House spokeswoman said, "The administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, but the end result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations behind a very personal and private decision. The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way."
The bill was brought to the House floor under suspension of the rules, which means it required a two-thirds majority to pass. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) would have needed all of the Republican votes and fifty Democrat votes in order to pass. Twenty Democrats voted for the bill and seven Republicans opposed it.
Media Resources: AP 5/31/12; ABC News 5/31/12; RH Reality Check 5/31/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/30/12