The House on Thursday rejected a Republican bill that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of the child, a practice known as sex-selective abortion.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that's a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. In this case, it would have required more support from Democrats.
Suspension votes are normally used for noncontroversial bills, but the GOP-backed measure was clearly controversial. Republicans have occasionally put controversial bills on the suspension calendar in order to highlight that Democrats oppose certain policies.
In some cases, Republicans have rescheduled these bills for regular consideration after they have failed, allowing for passage by a simple majority. But Republicans gave no sign that they would try again with PRENDA.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio) indicated that the issue of stopping sex-selective abortion is important enough that they would try again, but he was not specific.
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"This is an important issue to the American people," BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE said to reporters off the floor. "This type of sex selection most Americans find pretty repulsive, and our members feel strongly about it. That's why it is being brought to the floor."
During debate on the bill Wednesday, Republicans said the bill is consistent with the broader U.S. position that sex-selective abortion should be condemned around the world.
"In 2007, the United States spearheaded a U.N. resolution to condemn sex-selective abortion worldwide," said Rep. Trent FranksTrent FranksFlynn puts FBI director back in spotlight Rift in GOP threatens ObamaCare repeal Dissenting nominees give hope to GOP skeptics of Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), the sponsor of the bill. "Yet, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are the only advanced country left in the world that still doesn't restrict sex-selective abortion in any way."
While some Democrats made it clear that they oppose sex-selective abortion, they indicated that they oppose the bill's enforcement provisions, which they said would put in place an unacceptable limit on women's rights to choose abortion.
"We can all agree that women should not choose to terminate a pregnancy based solely on gender, but this bill criminalizes a legal procedure," Rep. Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne BonamiciLiberal Dems warn against narrow focus on rural or coastal voters 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2016 election Overnight Energy: Greens take aim at trade deals MORE (D-Ore.) said Thursday afternoon.
"The bill includes a provision that would allow a women's husband or parents, by merely alleging that an abortion is because of gender, to seek injunctive relief to prevent the doctor from performing abortion procedures, sending an incredibly private and personal decision into the courts," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) added Thursday.
"It is another Republican intrusion into a woman's right to choose," said Rep. Jim McDermottJim McDermottDem lawmaker: Israel's accusations start of 'war on the American government' Dem to Trump on House floor: ‘Stop tweeting’ A record number of Indian Americans have been elected to Congress MORE (D-Wash.) of the GOP bill on Wednesday. "Women should be able to make such sensitive and private decisions with their families, their doctors and their god, free from the fear of the police."
Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashGOP rep pushes back on Trump's tweet about town hall protests Republicans at risk in 2018 steering clear of town halls Some GOP lawmakers want entitlement reform in next budget MORE (Mich.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), and Ron Paul (Texas).
Democrats voting for it were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyGOP loses top Senate contenders Pruitt sworn in as EPA chief Dem senator: I may face 2018 primary from Tea Party-esque progressives MORE (Ind.), John GaramendiJohn GaramendiOutdated infrastructure poses national security risk Dems urge treaty ratification after South China Sea ruling Fight over California drought heats up in Congress MORE (Calif.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Jim MathesonJim MathesonNew president, new Congress, new opportunity First black GOP woman in Congress wins reelection Lobbying world MORE (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Nick RahallNick RahallWest Virginia is no longer Clinton country Solution needed: Rail congestion is stifling economic growth Lobbying World MORE (W.Va.), Silvestre Reyes (Texas), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.).