A deeply shameful moment in US Congressional history:
The House on Thursday rejected a Republican bill that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of the child, a practice known as sex-selective abortion.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that’s a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. In this case, it would have required more support from Democrats.
Twenty Democrats voted for the bill, while seven Republicans opposed it. The bill would have needed 30 more yeas to pass.
Suspension votes are normally used for noncontroversial bills, but the GOP-backed measure was clearly controversial. Republicans have occasionally put controversial bills on the suspension calendar in order to highlight that Democrats oppose certain policies.
In some cases, Republicans have rescheduled these bills for regular consideration after they have failed, allowing for passage by a simple majority. But Republicans gave no sign that they would try again with PRENDA.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that the issue of stopping sex-selective abortion is important enough that they would try again, but he was not specific.
Here are the Republicans who voted against and the Democrats who voted for:
Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), and Ron Paul (Texas).
Democrats voting for it were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Silvestre Reyes (Texas), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.).
Here’s the full roll call.
I’m especially interested in hearing Congressman Paul’s reasoning for voting against the bill, considering he claims to be staunchly pro-life and especially considering the sensibility of how PRENDA addressed such a disturbing issue – according to Life News’ Steven Ertelt:
The bill would make it a federal offense to knowingly do any one of the following four things: (1) perform an abortion, at any time in pregnancy, “knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex or gender of the child”; (2) use “force or threat of force. . . for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion”; (3) solicit or accept funds to perform a sex-selection abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the U.S. or across state lines for this purpose. However, the bill says “A woman upon whom a sex-selection abortion is performed may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable for any violation . . .”
The bill also specifically states, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion, absent the healthcare provider having knowledge or information that the abortion is being sought based on the sex or gender of the child.”
Some of the Democrats who voted against the bill claimed they did so because they felt it “went too far.” That’s just political cover to make it sound like they really, really, really wanted to vote for the bill but just couldn’t because they believed it was overreaching — as if a bill designed to discourage and punish doctors who knowingly perform sex-selective abortions could possibly be any worse than the practice itself.
The WH also weighed in today on PRENDA and it’s not shocking at all that this President, the most pro-abortion President we’ve ever had, does not support banning sex-selective abortions (bolded emphasis added by me):
White House deputy press secretary Jamie Smith says in a statement: “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.”
That’s a flat out lie and, again, is nothing more than political cover for a White House that, like many rabidly pro-choice Democrats, puts a woman’s “right to choose” above a woman’s right to be born at all – ironically enough. These people clearly don’t give a damn about standing up for our nation’s most vulnerable – the unborn – even if they are specifically aborted based on their sex. You can rest assured that if “race” or “sexual orientation” were used in replacement of the word “sex” in this bill, the end result would have been the same. The bottom line is that Democrats believe there should be as few restrictions on a woman’s “right to choose” as possible because any attempt at restricting is, in their eyes, a back door way to banning abortion altogether. So they’ll, in essence, take the same outrageous stance that far more evil people in our nation’s history have taken (including their heroine icon Margaret Sanger) with regards to eliminating “undesirables” because – to them – it’s irrelevant “why” a woman wants to have an abortion. The only thing that matters is that she be allowed to have it on any basis whatsoever – even if it is sexist/racist in nature. Yes, the same party that claims to be the “voice and protectors of minorities” in this country is the same party that doesn’t want to stop you from terminating an unborn life using the same blatantly discriminatory criteria they claim to be against for people who were fortunate enough to have mothers who wanted to give birth to them!
Let’s also not forget what a campaign cash cow abortion is for the left. Raising money off the backs of the unborn whose lives they were ok with exterminating for convenience purposes. Yet, we’re the “heartless” ones. Go figure.
Unfortunately, the absurdness of the Democrat position on PREDNA didn’t stop there. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank suggested today that the GOP could “be at risk” of losing the Asian-American vote over PREDNA, as if that should be a primary deciding factor as to whether or not to bring this issue up for debate in the first place:
Republicans long ago lost African American voters. They are well on their way to losing Latinos. And if Trent Franks prevails, they may lose Asian Americans, too.
The Arizona Republican’s latest antiabortion salvo to be taken up by the House had a benign name — the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act — and a premise with which just about everybody agrees: that a woman shouldn’t abort a fetus simply because she wants to have a boy rather than a girl.
The problem with Franks’s proposal is that it’s not entirely clear there is a problem. Sex-selection abortion is a huge tragedy in parts of Asia, but to the extent it’s happening in this country, it’s mostly among Asian immigrants.
For Franks, who previously tried to pass legislation limiting abortions among African Americans and residents of the District of Columbia, it was the latest attempt to protect racial minorities from themselves.
“The practice of sex selection is demonstrably increasing here in the United States, especially but not exclusively in the Asian immigrant community,” he announced on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. He quoted a study finding that male births “for Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans clearly exceeded biological variation.”
Democrats found Franks’s paternalism toward minority groups to be suspect. Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.), identifying herself as a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the bill would “lead to further stigmatization of women, especially Asian Pacific American women.” Various Asian American legal and women’s groups opposed the bill.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Franks didn’t dispute that Asian Americans would be targeted. “The real target in the Asian community here is the Asian women who are being coerced into aborting little girls,” he told me, adding: “When the left doesn’t want to make abortion the issue, they say you’re being against minorities.”
Exactly, because the left has no other argument against common sense legislation like PREDNA except to play the “victim” card. If they actually tried to debate HONESTLY on the actual substance of the bill, they’d lose in the court of public opinion even more so than they already are on this issue.
Matt Lewis addresses Milbank’s implication here (bolded emphasis added by Lewis):
But let’s assume Milbank is right — that taking a stand against aborting little girls based on their gender will cost the GOP votes. If that’s the case, this might be an opportunity for the GOP to prove permanent ideas matter more than partisan vote-pandering.
Doing the right thing isn’t always popular. The first vote to abolish the slave trade in Britain earned just four votes: William Wilberforce, William Pitt, Edmund Burke, and Charles James Fox.
In that regard, we should hope that — rather than attempting to cobble together a disparate coalition of interest groups to give them a slim majority today — the GOP is instead focused on first principles — and ideas worth fighting for tomorrow. If that is the case, this is a political party worthy of respect.
And on no issue is standing on principles more important when it comes to the protection of the unborn. If we don’t stand up for them, who will?
And from Tuesday: