Politics
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08:  House Judiciary Committee WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) (2nd R) holds a hearing about H.R.3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  

Congressman wants to outlaw abortions motivated by race or gender

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks once again is pushing to outlaw abortions that are due to an unborn child’s race or sex, with legislation that would punish medical providers who perform abortions, or accept funding for abortions, based on those criteria.

According to Franks, a ban on these types of abortions is needed because minority babies are aborted at five times the rate of white babies and, based on a 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Census data shows that certain populations have “son-biased” ratios due to “sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stages.”

“I know all of the explosive dynamics related to anything connected to abortion, but this should be something that all of us can find some common ground on,” Franks told The Daily Caller. “That is my hope.”

Franks introduced the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or “PRENDA,” on Tuesday.

It is similar to legislation of the same name he pushed in the 111th Congress — then the bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties but never reached the floor for a full vote in the House. At the time the bipartisan bill had 49 co-sponsors.

PRENDA would exempt the would-be mother from prosecution, but make abortion providers liable should they perform or accept funding for abortions based on sex or race.

Franks explained that the genesis for PRENDA was a protest rally at a Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood he attended several years — which was staged by Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece, pro-life advocate Alveda King and a number of African Americans who were upset about the high percentage of aborted African American babies.

“I was so moved by it that I promised them that we would try to do something to address this tragedy and PRENDA essentially came out of that,” he told TheDC.

While Franks says his bill is aimed just at discrimination, when Franks first introduced PRENDA the pro-choice movement said that his discrimination argument was merely cover to limit access to abortions.

In a letter to Congress co-signed by over 30 pro-choice groups — including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights — laid out their case, explaining that Franks’ bill was “simply more of the same from the anti-choice extremists choice extremists in the House” and urged Congress to oppose the initiative.

“[T]he bill will effectively exacerbate already existing disparities by limiting some women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care and penalizing health care providers,” they wrote. “Instead of addressing health disparities and ensuring accessible and culturally competent medical care for all women, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act will further isolate and stigmatize some women — particularly those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander and African American communities — from exercising their fundamental human right to make and implement decisions about their reproductive lives.”

Franks’ new bill is virtually the same as his initial stab at it.

The congressman makes no bones about the fact that he hopes that legislation like this will one day help lead to the end of all abortions. He does, however, note that the idea of discrimination is something that people can rally around.

“People will say I have a greater agenda — and they are right — I hope for a day when all children, regardless of race or color, all children because they are children will be protected,” he said.

“But right now regardless of what the long term impact of this might be the short term impact is very simple: Can we not agree that aborting a child based on a child’s race or sex is wrong?”

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