Remember in 2011, when Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (aka. PRENDA) to ban abortions on the basis of race and sex selection? Remember when Rep. Franks attempted to use two iconic freedom fighters and language from the Civil Rights Movement to mask this bill as a step towards equality? Remember in 2012 when Republicans made a last-minute change in the bill, dropping the “race selection” language, and voted on PRENDA, positioning it as an anti-discrimination bill? In reality, we all knew it was a thinly veiled attempt to further place restrictions on abortion, specifically aimed at women of color and specifically, targeting Asian-American women across the country. But mainly, do you remember in May, 2012, when activists across the country like YOU contacted their Representatives about this outrageous piece of legislation, and the House killed the bill, 246-168?
I remember it too. And while only four states – PA, IL, AZ, OK – currently have sex-selective abortion bans in state law (Arizona’s 2011 law is the only one to include a “race-selection” restriction), we are seeing other states jump on this bandwagon.
PRENDA may be dead in Congress, but continues to rear its ugly head elsewhere. In Virginia, Representative Robert Marshall (R) introduced HB 1316, a bill that, if passed, would criminalize doctors who perform an abortion that is being sought on account of the sex of the unborn child.
Let’s break this down. AGAIN.
Sex-selection is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia. It’s a practice that occurs due to cultural and entrenched gender bias, and unequal value placed on men and women. Abortion opponents have framed sex-selective abortion bans as a way to ensure this practice does not occur in the United States (there’s inconclusive evidence that it actually does), while claiming to save the lives of thousands of little girls. On the surface, this bill purports to further gender equity, but what it really is doing is chipping away at abortion rights. Further, it places an unnecessary and discriminatory burden on women of color, especially Asian-American women, who find themselves needing to access reproductive health care.
Every woman’s choice to have an abortion is a private matter, not a decision the government (state or federal) should interfere with. Banning abortion is NOT the way to end sex selection – it’s simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a disingenuous strategy to limit women’s access to abortion. Period.
Currently, HB 1316 is sitting in the Committee for Courts of Justice, and will be heard TODAY. If you live in Virginia, I urge you to take action and contact legislators on the committee to ensure this bill’s lifespan ends soon.