The House voted today to reject a measure that would have banned sex-selection abortions in the United States, pitting Republicans and Democrats in a showdown over a woman's right to choose, which opponents contended was "intended to chip away at woman's right to obtain safe, legal medical care."
The measure, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), was defeated 246-178. Under suspension of the House rules to permit consideration of the bill more quickly, approval of the measure was subject to a two-thirds majority, and with 414 members voting Republicans fell 30 votes short of passage.
The bill was perceived by Democrats as political maneuver to coax liberal lawmakers into supporting the bill or face the prospect of an onslaught of campaign advertisements this fall highlighting a lawmaker's vote to support sex-selection abortions.
Still, only 20 Democrats took the bait and broke from their party to vote with the majority of Republicans. Seven GOPers opposed the measure.
The House debated the bill Wednesday, but a vote was postponed until Thursday afternoon.
After the plight of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng captured international headlines this month, Republicans had hoped to capitalize on the momentum of that awareness to ensure that sex-selection abortions are not legal in the United States.
Many nations with staunchly pro-choice/pro-abortion rights laws and protections nevertheless ban sex-selection abortions. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands all have laws banning sex-selection abortions.
Earlier this week, a pro-life group released an undercover video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas assisting a woman seeking a sex-selection abortion. Gendercide, the practice of killing baby girls or terminating pregnancies solely because the fetus is female, is estimated to have produced a "gender imbalance" of more than 100 million girls around the world.
"For most of us, Mr. Speaker, 'it's a girl' is cause for enormous joy, happiness and celebration," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said on the House floor Wednesday. "But in many countries including our own, it could be a death sentence. Today the three most dangerous words in China and India are, 'It's a girl.' We can't let that happen here."