WASHINGTON — Sex-selective abortion has created huge and rapidly growing sex ratio imbalances in Asian countries such as China and India.
Now there’s evidence the practice is proliferating in the United States, and Congressman Trent Franks, R-Ariz., wants to stop it.
On Sept. 23, Franks held a press conference on the steps of a U.S. House office building to announce the introduction of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PreNDA), H.R. 7016. Like the now-enacted Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, PreNDA chisels at an area of abortion that even the most dedicated pro-abortion forces will have difficulty defending. Representatives Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Mike Pence, R-Ind., John Shadegg, R-Ariz., and Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, also spoke. Though the bill has Democratic co-sponsors, none attended the press conference.
“Today, I hope we can all reflect on a concept that should bring us together as a nation: All of us are created equal,” Franks said at the conference. “We have not reached the high place where God’s face shines on all of the faces of every one of his children.”
A 2006 Zogby poll found that 86% of Americans think sex-selective abortions should be illegal.
The late Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., used to introduce a bill in each session of Congress to ban sex-selective abortions. “Our bill is quite a lot different from Senator Helms’ bill,” said Franks in an interview with the Register. Franks said that his brainstorm was simply to extend standard civil rights protections, encapsulated in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to unborn Americans. “Sex and race discrimination are already forbidden,” he said. “We took everything applicable from the 1964 Civil Rights Act and applied it to the unborn.”
PreNDA will not apply penalties to women seeking sex- or race-selective abortions, but to abortionists and other collaborators in mothers’ decisions to kill.
The bill reads: “Whoever knowingly performs an abortion knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent of that child … or solicits or accepts funds for the purpose of financing a sex-selection abortion or a race-selection abortion; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
Study of Census
The latest major analysis of sex-selective abortion in the U.S. comes from a study published in the April 15 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, authored by Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Columbia University. The article, “Son-Biased Sex Ratios in the 2000 United States Census,” argues that among Asian-American families whose first child is a daughter, sons are far too common as later children to be explained naturally. Under natural circumstances, about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls.
“We document male-biased sex ratios among U.S.-born children to Chinese, Koreans, and Asian Indians in the U.S.,” say the authors. “We find that the sex ratio of the oldest child to be normal, but that of subsequent children to be heavily male if there was no previous son.”
The sex ratio of the second child was 1.17 if the first child was a girl, the study finds. “At third parity [for the third child], boys outnumbered girls by 1.51:1 if the two previous children were girls.”
Among white Americans, no such skewed ratios exist. “White offspring sex ratios varied only slightly with parity and sex composition of previous children, and the tendency was for repetition of the previous sex,” the authors say. The study found that it made no difference if the Asian mothers were American citizens or only residents; both groups had extremely abnormal sex ratios among their children if their first-borns were girls.
The study authors note: “Since 2005, sexing through a blood test as early as five weeks after conception has been marketed directly to consumers in the U.S., raising the prospect of sex selection becoming more widely practiced in the near future.”
The trend toward greater sex-selection is already clear, says the study: “In the 1990 U.S. Census, the tendency for males to follow females among Indians, Chinese and Koreans is substantially muted.”
Steve Mosher, president of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute and a speaker at the press conference, told the Register that this was not only a moral issue. “I think it’s very important for the stability of society for there to be a man for every woman and a woman for every man,” he said, noting that China is already experiencing symptoms of a heavily male population among youth: “increased gang activity, more crime, more drug and alcohol abuse, and trafficking in women” by men unable to find a bride legitimately.
Alveda King, niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said at the press conference that “a huge majority of abortion clinics are located in minority neighborhoods. … One-third of all abortions performed in America are performed on black women.”
In fact, noted Franks, although race-selective abortion is much harder to detect than sex-selective abortion, “One of the greatest failures of African-American leadership in this country is their failure to face this: Half of African-American children trying to be born are aborted.”
Other speakers included Day Gardner, radio talk show host and president of the National Black Pro-Life Union; Pastor Clenard Childress, director of BlackGenocide.org; William Owens of Families for America, and Rev. Johnny Hunter. Several speakers cited experts who say that 100 million women are missing worldwide due to sex-selective abortion.
Franks said that Congress may not act on PreNDA before the election, but that this “trial run” could lead to a major effort next year.
Despite repeated promises to do so, the McCain campaign did not respond to a question asking if Sen. John McCain would sign PreNDA as president. Calls to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League), and Planned Parenthood about their positions on the bill went unreturned.
Franks’ bill includes a reporting requirement that forces abortionists and others to tell the government about attempts to secure sex- or race-selective abortions. As he said, “Even an occasional prosecution will have an effect.”
Joseph A. D’Agostino is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist writing a book tentatively titled “Triumph of Patriarchy.” He is former associate editor of Human Events and former vice president for communications at the Population Research Institute.