Washington: US lawmakers have introduced a new legislation in the House of Representatives to ban sex-selective abortion as they blamed Asian immigrants, especially from India and China, for the rise in female feticide in the country.
Under the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), introduced in House of Representative, by Congressman Trent Franks, a doctor who performed an abortion could face up to five-years in prison if race or sex was a factor in the woman`s decision to terminate her pregnancy.
Asian Americans have alleged that such a move would encourage racial profiling in the US.
Medical professionals who failed to report a suspected sex or race-based abortion to law enforcement would face up to a one-year prison sentence as well.
"... A number of academic papers have now published evidence that the practice of sex-selection abortion is demonstrably increasing here in the United States, especially, but not exclusively, in the Asian immigrant community," Franks said on the floor of the House.
"A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut, which was published in Prenatal Diagnosis, found that the male-to-female live birth sex ratio in the United States for Chinese, Asian Indians, and Koreans clearly exceeded biological variation for third births and beyond. Mr Speaker, deliberate prenatal sex selection is the only plausible explanation," he said.
"Dr Sunita Puri and three other researchers at the University of California interviewed 65 immigrant Indian women in the United States who had sought or were seeking sex-selection abortion. They found that 40 per cent of the women interviewed had deliberately aborted unborn baby girls previously and that nearly 90 percent of the women who were currently carrying unborn baby girls were also currently seeking to abort them," Franks said.
"For most of us, Mr Speaker, `it’s a girl` is cause for enormous joy, happiness, and celebration. But in many countries, including our own, it can be a death sentence. Today, the three most dangerous words in China and India are `it`s a girl`. We can’t let that happen here," he said.
"By now most people know that the killing of baby girls by abortion or at birth is pervasive in China due to the One Child policy and a preference for sons. China and India are missing tens of millions of daughters," Franks said.
However, the bill is being opposed by many in and out of the Congress.
"Mr Speaker, as I listen to this debate, I am not sure if we are talking about India or China, but where are we talking about here. The Republicans have set up another straw man," Congressman Jim McDermott said.
"This bill is another Republican attack on women’s rights at the same time it’s masquerading as an anti-discrimination bill. It’s about as cynical and deceptive as anything I`ve seen on the floor. I ask the proponents of this bill: If you care, Mr Speaker, if they care about discrimination against women, why did they vote in the last Congress against women`s rights to challenge gender-based pay discrimination? Why did you also vote to allow health insurers to continue charging women higher premiums based on their sex" he asked.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum alleges the bill encourages racial profiling by doctors.
"This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that pretends to address inequality while actually making it worse," NAPAWF Executive Director Miriam Yeung said.
"If sponsors really wanted to address the issue of sex selection, they would work to raise the status of women by eliminating gender inequity. We know some people, including some in our community, would prefer to have sons because of gender inequity that continues to exist in this country. Banning abortion is not the solution," she said.
However, proponents of the bill argue that if countries like India and China can impose a ban on abortion than why not the US.
"Countries with longstanding experience with sex-selection abortion such as the Republic of India, the United Kingdom, and the People`s Republic of China have enacted restrictions on sex-selection, and have steadily continued to strengthen prohibitions and penalties," the bill says.
The US, by contrast, has no law in place to restrict sex-selection abortion, establishing the United States as affording less protection from sex-based feticide than India or China, whose recent practices of sex-selection abortion were vehemently and repeatedly condemned by US congressional resolutions and by the US Ambassador to the Commission on the Status of Women.
"Public statements from within the medical community reveal that citizens of other countries come to the US for sex-selection procedures that would be criminal in their country of origin.
Because the US permits abortion on the basis of sex, the United States may effectively function as a `safe haven` for those who seek to have American physicians do what would otherwise be criminal in their home countries a sex-selection abortion, most likely late-term," the bill says.