The House on Thursday failed to pass a bill that would have outlawed abortions performed because of the sex of the fetus, thrilling abortion-rights advocates.
House members voted 246-168 to approve the bill, which was short of the two-thirds majority needed under an unusual procedure used to get the vote to the floor.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., would have made it it a federal offense to perform, solicit funds to perform, or coerce a woman into a sex-selection abortion.
The National Right To Life Committee said it was taking names. “We are heartened that a strong majority of House members voted to ban performing or coercing abortions for the purpose of eliminating unborn babies of an undesired sex – usually, girls,” NRLC's Douglas Johnson said in a statement. His group publicizes the abortion-rights votes of members of Congress.
Opponents of the bill were cheered. “The Franks bill exploits the very real problems of sex discrimination and gender inequity while failing to offer any genuine solutions that would eliminate disparities in health care access and information,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Rather than attacking a woman’s right to choose, lawmakers with a sincere interest in addressing gender discrimination should support policies that work to combat the bias and stereotypes that continue to plague our society."
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the bill would not have protected girls.
“As a women’s health advocate for nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood opposes sex-selection abortion. But this legislation fails to address the real causes of inequality and health disparities, and instead takes aim at the very communities it claims to help," Richards said in a statement.