Prenatal Non­discrimination Act That Targeted Asian Women Fails In House (Thankfully)

Back in December 2011, Congressman Trent Franks (in photo above, R-AZ) proposed H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PreNDA). This bill would have imposed fines and prison time (up to five years) on doctors who perform abortions that are decided on based on the fetus’ sex. It would have also obligated doctors and nurses to report women who they suspect are getting an abortion for this reason.

Now, I’m not for sex-selective abortion. But I don’t support this bill because — let’s be real — there is no way that doctors can know whether someone wants to get an abortion just because of the sex of the fetus. The bill would give a reason for doctors to unnecessarily question women who want to get an abortion.

Plus, it’s obvious that the bill targets Asian American and Asian immigrant women and pretty much uses them as an excuse for it. The supporters of this bill argued that the growth in the Asian population has corresponded to an increase in the abortion of female fetuses, and that this bill will help stop this trend. This means that this bill would have encouraged doctors to specifically target Asian women with questioning before an abortion. And no woman should ever face interrogation about her decision about her own body and life.

The thing that had scared me most about this legislation was that it pretended to promote gender equality and civil rights (i.e. let’s save Asian girl babies). But NAPAWF puts it succinctly:

The sponsors of this bill are using the guise of “ending discrimination against female babies,” which sounds like a good cause, in order to ban abortion for the very people it pretends to protect: Asian American women… The hypocrisy of the bills sponsors becomes even more clear when we look at their voting records. They have never supported the numerous measures that would improve the living conditions of women and people of color — like the Voting Rights Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Violence Against Women Act.

When I read that the House rejected the PreNDA bill on May 31st, I sighed with relief. Except we can’t let our guards down, because although it didn’t get the two-thirds majority vote that it needed to pass, it still got a 246-168 vote in favor (a clear majority). Way too many yeas, in my opinion. We should remind those Republicans that they’re supposed to be supporting people/organizations/bills that are actually trying to address the real problem: the sexism and gender inequity that leads women to be pressured to have a child of a certain sex. And if Republicans want more of their bills passed, they seriously should stop encouraging racial profiling in them.

(Photo credit: Skidmore, Flickr) [h/t: Jeff]

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About Mina

I'm a compilation of lots of identities: japanese/hong kongnese immigrant, APIA, (fierce) womyn of color and third culture kid (TCK). And when I grow up, I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama #BlueScholars
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