Sex-selective abortion issue hits Senate

Senate Republicans are floating a bill meant to ban sex-selective abortions after an identical measure was defeated in the GOP-controlled House. 

The effort highlights the special attention paid to abortion issues by Republicans in Congress, who are more widely known for their interest in fiscal policy.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced S. 3290 on Wednesday. The bill’s 25 GOP co-sponsors include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The bill is likely dead on arrival since Democrats control the upper chamber. 

{mosads}Though research on the issue of sex-selective abortion is sparse, the issue has become a cause célèbre for groups that oppose abortion rights.

Activists on the right allege that some immigrants in the United States abort girls out of a cultural preference for sons.

The vast majority of abortions occur before fetal gender can be determined.

Vitter’s bill, like the one from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) in the House, would impose fines or imprisonment on doctors who perform abortions they know are motivated in part by the fetus’s gender.

The bill also would require medical professionals to tell law enforcement if they suspect an abortion has been performed for that reason.

Franks’s bill was widely opposed by abortion-rights groups, which said it would impede the doctor-patient relationship, encourage racial profiling and undermine Roe v. Wade.

The White House also weighed in, saying that the bill would “subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations” behind abortions.

“The administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, but … the government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way,” deputy press secretary Jamie Smith said in a statement.

The House bill was defeated on May 31 in a vote of 246-168 — 30 votes away from the two-thirds support required for passage under suspension of the House rules.

Twenty Democrats voted for the bill, and seven Republicans voted against it. Suspension of the rules is normally used for non-controversial bills.

In a statement introducing his version, Vitter called it “flat-out morally wrong” to discriminate based on fetal gender.

“But believe it or not, it happens,” he added.

The Republican co-sponsors on the Senate bill are: Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Mike Lee (Utah), John Cornyn (Texas), Jim Risch (Idaho), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Boozman (Ark.), John Thune (S.D.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and McConnell.

Tags Dan Coats David Vitter Jeff Sessions Jim Inhofe Jim Risch John Barrasso John Boozman John Cornyn John Hoeven John Thune Johnny Isakson Kelly Ayotte Lindsey Graham Mike Crapo Mike Enzi Mike Johanns Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Pat Roberts Roger Wicker Ron Johnson Saxby Chambliss Thad Cochran Tom Coburn Trent Franks

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