Flanking Movement in the Abortion Wars

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has reintroduced the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit knowingly performing or soliciting funding for race- or sex-selection abortion.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., doesn’t mince words: “Abortion on demand is the greatest single cause of death in the history of humanity.”

Unfortunately, easy access to abortion has been engrained into the characters of many Americans, and, moreover, abortion has been framed as a “woman’s right to control her own body.” How can the pro-life movement penetrate these ideological and practical defenses of pro-abortion forces in the same way that the debate over partial-birth abortion did?

Franks has a flanking maneuver ready to go. On March 31, he reintroduced the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PreNDA) to ban abortions sought due to the sex or race of the unborn child. Instead of attacking abortion head-on, this bill, like the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, highlights an especially unpopular corner of the abortion business, one that pro-abortion politicians and activists don’t want anyone to talk about. Part of the reason: In 2006, Zogby found that 86% of Americans support banning sex-selective abortion.

Said Franks, who wants ultimately to ban abortion outright, “This may be the most important bill I’ve ever had the privilege to introduce, because I believe it could have the effect of redefining and reshaping the entire debate surrounding the protection of innocent unborn human life.”

Banning sex- and race-selective abortions is “something that every reasonable, decent human being should support,” he said. “And I believe it will win overwhelming support if it reaches the floor of Congress.”

Last year, Franks had five co-sponsors when he introduced the bill for the first time. This year, he had 28 as of April 7, including the third-ranking Republican in the House, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Indiana), and a handful of Democrats, though no members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The bill (H.R. 1822) exempts aborting mothers from punishment, but health professionals would be required to report any violation.

“I think that the most important thing is that everyone understands that this is a civil rights issue, a human-rights issue,” said Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union. “Many people would like to say that gender-selective abortion is not occurring in the United States. But it is.”

A study published in the April 15, 2008, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two Columbia researchers found that data from the 1990 and 2000 censuses showed a strong trend toward sex-selective abortion among the Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian communities that they studied.

“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,” they wrote. The ratio of boys to girls among second children was 1.17:1 and among third, an astonishing 1.51:1.

‘Greatest Genocide in History’

A blood test detecting a child’s sex as early as five weeks was first marketed to consumers directly in 2005, and the number of Asian immigrants has increased substantially since the 2000 Census. The 2010 Census may reveal more sinister statistics.

“I think that sex-selective abortions do occur in the general population, but some are performed on little boys, so they don’t show up in the numbers,” said Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute. White Americans may perform sex-selective abortions to ensure a supposed balance between the numbers of boys and girls in their families, he said.

Though there are no statistics showing such direct proof for race-selective abortions, Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., said there is plenty of indirect evidence.

“We have a higher proportion of abortions,” said King, pastoral associate of Priests for Life. “The proportion of children aborted now approaches half of black babies.” She calls the situation “genocide” and pointed to the undercover work by Lila Rose of Live Action and James O’Keefe, who pretended to be racists who wanted to give Planned Parenthood donations to abort black women’s children. No Planned Parenthood employee refused the money.

An August 2008 study by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute found the proportion of abortions performed on white women has declined, while the proportion performed on black and Hispanic women has risen. Only 1% of white women had an abortion in 2004, while 3% of Hispanic women and 5% of black women did. Black women, 13% of the female population, now account for 37% of abortions.

Franks said that publicity can only help his effort to enact PreNDA.

“This will gather strength the more it’s talked about and discussed,” he said. “Your readers should call their members of Congress, and we should see it introduced in state legislatures.” He contended that PreNDA will help draw attention to the central question: “Does abortion kill an innocent human being, Yes or No? If so, then America is at the epicenter of the greatest genocide in history.”

Such small steps against abortion are still possible, as an Ohio law that went into effect April 7 shows. The new law, the Protecting Pregnant Women from Coercion & Violence Act, requires abortion businesses to display a poster in their waiting areas making it clear to women that no one can coerce or pressure them into having an abortion.

The notice will indicate that an abortion can only be performed if the woman signs a consent form, and will also inform the woman that if she is coerced, she should not sign the form and should inform abortion business employees.

Neither the White House nor NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) would comment on PreNDA or the issue of sex- and race-selective abortion.

Joseph A. D’Agostino writes

from Washington, D.C.