House Committee Considers Ban On Race and Gender Specific Abortions

On Monday Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee circulated a memo in support of Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) cynically named Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. The proposed bill proposes to ban abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus and would give a woman’s family members the ability to sue abortion providers if they believed a woman obtained an abortion based on race or sex.

The memo argues in support of the “prenatal discrimination bill” by segregating out “black” abortions from abortions in general and makes the claim that “abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community.”

There’s a lot that is deeply disturbing about this latest attack. Let’s start with the procedural points. This is not the first time Franks has proposed this bill. Last year it didn’t make it out of committee. But this year it’s now getting a markup and gained 78 co-sponors means there’s a good chance the House of Representatives will vote on in prior to the November presidential elections.

That means that, believe it or not, the House has only grown more intolerant of reproductive rights. I didn’t think that was possible.

Now let’s talk about the substance of the bill. How exactly does one go about proving an abortion was obtained because of the baby’s race or sex? Since the bill grants legal standing to someone other than the woman who had the abortion to sue providers, this seems to be an important point to hash out. This is especially confusing related to the ban on race-specific abortions. Where is the evidence that black women are aborting a fetus because it will grow into a black baby?

The bill makes a disturbing expansion of the Republican drive to leave women’s medical decisions up to committees at which they have no seat. In no other circumstances do we allow family members to challenge completed medical procedures because of a belief it was done for a purpose they disagree with. How then is a doctor to protect his or herself from frivolous claims? Will providers make women needing abortion care get executed releases from their entire family prior to that procedure?

You get the point. The bill is designed to create enough procedural barriers while simultaneously and significantly expanding legal liability of providers who offer abortion care leaving abortion legal in name only.

If that were not bad enough the bill is steeped in a deeply troubling misunderstanding of history and race in this country that apparently at least 78 other members of Congress embrace.

We saw this in Georgia when anti-abortion activists tried to hijack the civil rights movement and appropriate that language in claiming to save black babies from genocide carried out by Planned Parenthood. This same ethos permeates Franks’ bill with cries of alarm over abortion rates in the African American community with this bill as the solution.

The reality is this. Nearly every abortion is the result of an unintended pregnancy, and black women’s unintended pregnancy rates reflect the specific difficulties women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services, just like other health outcomes for other conditions like heart disease. The harder it is to get health care of any kind, the worse the health outcomes. It’s time Republicans start accepting this fact.

Related Stories:

Georgia Rep. Wants To Investigate Every Miscarriage

Arizona Tries To Ban Race And Sex Selective Abortion

Photo from guisse95 via flickr.


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

gender based abortions and race based abortions are genocide pure and simple

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.6 years ago

What happened to democracy where you have a choice? Clearly the conservatards want us to go back to a god fearing theocracy. They need therapy.

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom6 years ago

Some places in Canada are considering not revealing fetus's sex to parents during ultrasounds to stop gender based abortions. This is very barbaric! Having a baby is not like shopping at the grocery store where you can choose the brand of milk you want!

Christine Stewart

I am totally pro-choice, except I disagree with gender specific abortions. You don't want a boy, so you want to try again for a girl? How do you know if you'll have the "proper" gender the next time? How do you know if you'll even be able to get pregnant again? It is a frivolous reason to kill your fetus for gender, and demeans all the hard work activists have done through the years to make abortion safe and legal.

Chad A.
Chad Anderson6 years ago

I have a great idea about preventing the "killing of the unborn." Let's give everyone a good, thorough, and honest series of age-appropriate sex ed, make the parents responsible for moral education and upbringing, provide women realistic and affordable access to contraception, make sure a social climate of protecting and advancing women's rights is respected, provide adequate health and child care to mothers, and then we can see how common abortion would be.

John Mansky
John Mansky6 years ago

"No Comment"...

Catherine Dash
Catherine D6 years ago

The leading causes for death in the black community are street violence and poor dietary habits causing morbidity and mortality.

Those politicians need to quit obsessing over abortions. Pregnancies are lost all the time by miscarriage. It is known as a spontaneous abortion. It happens during any stage of pregnancy.

Whether an abortion happens on its own or is medically induced, the effect is the same: a pregnancy stops.

It is not a sin. It just is. Some women are sorry the pregnancy was lost. Most are not.

Women should not be condemned to become parents just because they have sex or because their contraception fails.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Charli Stubbs
Charlotte S6 years ago

Just how stupid are these people. The woman AND ONLY THE WOMAN has the right to decide if she want to continue or terminate a pregnancy. It's no one elses business. If men got pregnant abortion clinics would be on every block and abortions would be a sacrament and probably free. The reason men (and women) are liable for child support is so that the child is not penalized. If a man doesn't want to end up paying child support then he should use protection every-time he has sex or should get sterilized. The smartest thing someone can do to avoid being forced to pay for a child he doesn't want is to talk before having sex and even if she says she's on the pill or other contraceptive device he should still wear a condom. Or maybe he should just masturbate...although if the right to lifers have their way that too will become illegal because sperm are life. ;ROLLEYES: