(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) unveiled a bill Tuesday that would ban race-based and sex-based abortions in the United States, providing civil and criminal penalties for the abortionist who violates the law.
The so-called Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act would officially outlaw any abortion performed on the basis of the race or gender of either the mother or the unborn baby.
Violators could face up to five years in prison if convicted. Women who seek abortions that violate the law would be exempt from its penalties and could even sue the doctors who performed the illegal abortion.
Franks said he hoped his legislation would spark a broader national debate about abortion-related issues, not just sex- and race-selective abortions.
“I truly hope that the debate and passage of this bill will call all Americans – inside and outside of Congress – to an inward and heartfelt reflection upon the humanity of unborn babies and the inhumanity of what is being done to them,” Franks said at a Capitol Hill press conference unveiling the bill.
The bill faces its first congressional hearing Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee’s Constitution subcommittee.
Steven Aden, vice president of the pro-life Alliance Defense Fund, said that the bill would be able to withstand Supreme Court scrutiny despite the fact that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.
“This bill strikes at commercial activity, not personal private choices,” Aden said. “Under the bill, no woman can be sued or prosecuted for having an abortion based on the gender or race of her baby, but the abortionist can, and that’s the key.”
The bill is founded primarily on two findings. One, from a 2008 paper from Columbia University economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund that found “evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage” after examining the ratio of boys to girls among certain segments of the population.
The second finding comes from the Guttmacher Institute that black women have an abortion rate that is nearly five times that of white women – the highest rate of any ethnic group in the country.
This racial and gender disparity, Franks said, is undeniable and is the reason for the bill.
“It [abortion] becomes sort of a disparate impact on children aborted because of race,” Franks said. “About 80 percent of the clinics of Planned Parenthood are in minority neighborhoods and – again – the disparity is profound.
“In terms of the sex-selection, it’s a little easier to quantify that [and] I can tell you that it’s thousands per year,” he said. “We know that – especially among certain ethnic groups – that that first child that is born and the boy-girl ratio is about the same as it should be. It’s about 1.05:1 – a very close to even division there. But the second child has a higher likelihood of being a boy.”