(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that President Barack Obama opposed legislation that would ban abortions done to terminate an unborn child of undesired gender because it would put doctors in the position of having to determine a woman's "motivations" for an abortion or else face criminal prosecution.
"The administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms," Carney said at a White House press briefing. "But the end result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations behind a very personal and private decision. I think we, again, oppose gender discrimination in all cases. I think our record on that is very clear. The president’s record on that is very clear.”
However, Section 5 of the Parental Nondiscrimination Act says, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion, absent the healthcare provider having knowledge or information that the abortion is being sought based on the sex or gender of the child.”
The bill was defeated in the House Thursday in a 246 to 168 vote, because it failed to get a two-thirds majority.
If passed, the legislation would have made abortions based on a baby’s gender illegal by creating a penalty for those who knowingly have gender-selective abortions, coerce a woman into having one, or provide transportation to a woman so she can come to the U.S. to have a gender-selective abortion.
“It’s the same as if a doctor prescribes a narcotic,” said Kate Middleton, spokeswoman for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), lead sponsor of the legislation.
“You could take that prescription and go home and dispense it to your family or a friend if the doctor didn’t know about it,” Middleton said. “But if you went to the doctor and said, ‘I need this prescription, and I’m going to give it to so and so,’ then the doctor would be liable for prescribing that drug.
“And in fact, in PRNDA, in Section 5, the Rule of Construction, it explicitly states that nothing in this act shall be construed to require that a health care provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion,” she added.
There are now four studies proving sex-selective abortions are happening in the United States, according to Franks’s office, which cited a study from the University of California Berkeley, the University of Texas, the University of Connecticut, and Columbia University.
The 2008 Columbia report found that there is “strong son bias” within selected American communities as revealed in census data and “clear evidence of sex-selection, most likely at the prenatal stage,” as quoted by Franks’s office.
Franks has said that these abortions disproportionately affect female babies and that the United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t restrict gender selection through law.
The United States, in 2007, joined an effort with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to condemn gender-selective abortions.
The matter of sex-selective abortions was recently highlighted after the pro-life group Live Action did a hidden camera investigation showing Planned Parenthood clinic staffers telling women how to obtain late-term abortions after they determine the gender of their child.