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 VitterDavid Bruce VitterSenate panel advances Trump nominee who wouldn't say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly Planned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge MORE (R-La.) introduced S. 3290 on Wednesday. The bill's 25 GOP co-sponsors include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRand Paul blocking Trump counterterrorism nominee On The Money: Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on border wall funding | Fed bank regulator walks tightrope on Dodd-Frank | Koch-backed groups blast incentives for corporations after Amazon deal Congress is going to make marijuana moves MORE (R-Ky.).

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

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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 FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksCook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct MORE (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. 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