Washington: The US House of Representative has rejected a legislation that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who would perform abortion for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of a child.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) was defeated in a 246-168 vote after open opposition to the bill by rights bodies and women organisations yesterday.
The White House too came out against such a move by the proponents of the bill, who argued that immigrants from Asia, especially those from countries like China and India indulge in sex-selective abortion.
"The administration opposed 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," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
"I think we, again, oppose gender discrimination in all cases. I think our record on that is very clear. The President`s record on that is very clear. But the purpose of this legislation -- or the result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution for failing to divine the motivations of their patients when it comes to a very personal and medical decision," Carney argued.
"This piece of legislation would have the hopefully unintended consequence of criminalising a failure by a doctor and prosecuting a doctor for criminal behaviour if he or she were somehow to fail to intuit the motivations of a patient in making a very private medical decision," he said.
Congressman Trent Franks, who had introduced PRENDA, said 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.
"Though it did not secure the two-thirds majority necessary to pass under suspension rules, I am confident that this is not the end, but merely the opening salvo in ensuring the words, `It`s a girl,` are no longer a death sentence for so many unborn girls," Franks said in a statement after the vote.
"I also note the sad and bitter irony that President Obama, who has disingenuously accused Republicans of a so-called `war on women,` mustered a truly breathtaking display of hypocrisy in opposing a bill that would prevent aborting those little babies who have the `nerve` to be little girls," Franks said.
Congressman Chris Smith termed it as a sad day in America when the President of the United States endorses sex-selection abortion by opposing the bill to outlaw this egregious assault on baby girls.
"Sex-selection abortion is cruel, it`s discriminatory, and it`s legal. It is violence against women. Most people in government are unaware that it is part of a deliberate plan of population control. This is the real war on women," he said.
"If ever there were a war on women in this country, the practice of sex-selection abortion would be the ultimate pre-emptive strike, taking the lives of innocent baby girls simply because they are girls and not boys. That`s the most reprehensible form of gender discrimination imaginable and it`s a crime against girls and humanity that needs to be stopped," said Congressman Mike Kelly.
However, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, who had alleged that the bill encourages racial profiling by doctors, termed the defeat of the bill a victory of women’s rights.
"We applaud the members of Congress who stood up for women`s health by voting down the bill," it said.
"This policy wouldn’t address the root causes of abortion for sex selection. It would just take away a woman’s ability to make personal, private medical decisions," it said.