Sex Selection

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) originally introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) in 2008, and reintroduced it in 2011 as H.R. 3541. This deceptive bill would have banned race- and sex- selective abortion, in a purported effort to promote racial and gender inequity. In the interim, bills to outlaw sex-selective abortion were introduced in 13 states and enacted in two: Oklahoma and Arizona. Illinois and Pennsylvania already had older sex-selective abortion bans in place.

In May, 2012, the race portion of this bill was stripped, leaving only the sex-selective abortion ban. The bill is scheduled for a House vote on May 30, 2012.

We recognize PRENDA as an underhanded tactic from anti-choice activists. It employs the guise of “ending discrimination against female babies” in order to ban abortion for Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) women. Instead of ending inequality, PRENDA promotes it by subjecting the motives of API women to scrutiny. The hypocrisy becomes even more clear when we look at who is supporting this bill. Many of the bills sponsors have voted against basic legislation for women like the Violence Against Women’s Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Sex selection is a real concern, and skewed sex ratios in India, China, Vietnam, and even the country of Georgia are troubling. In the United States, we are not confronted by the same skewed sex ratios. Still, we are well aware that gender inequality in the United States does exist, and that for some families, the desire to have a son – particularly in families who already have two or more daughters is very strong.

Banning abortion, however, is not the solution. Numerous international agencies have firmly stated that bans are not only unsuccessful but threaten women’s human rights. Instead, they urge governments to alleviate the root cause of sex selection- gender inequity. NAPAWF and our friends in the Asian American community are already working to address gender inequity in this country, and resulting son preference, in effective and culturally-competent ways. But rather than truly addressing gender inequity, this bill discriminates against our community

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