Commentary Magazine


White House Opposes Gender-Selection Ban

The House of Representatives is poised to vote on a bill today that would ban gender-selection abortions. The legislation comes at a critical time, just days after a pro-life group videotaped a Planned Parenthood staffer assisting an undercover activist who claimed she wanted an abortion if her baby was a girl.

The White House announced its opposition to the gender selection ban last night, in a statement to ABC’s Jake Tapper:

Note: The White House got back to me this evening to say the president opposes the bill.

White House deputy press secretary Jamie Smith says in a statement: “The administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, 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. The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way.”

But contrary to the White House’s claim, there is no reason to believe doctors would be prosecuted for failing to determine whether an abortion was motivated by gender-selection. The legislation would make it illegal for abortion providers to perform the procedure “knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent of that child.” The evidence would have to prove doctors or clinicians were aware of the sex-selection and knowingly performed the abortion anyway.

A recent poll found that 77 percent of Americans support some law criminalizing gender-based abortions, and clearly opposition to the practice is pretty much universal in the U.S. The problem is, the pro-choice movement doesn’t want to open the door to any laws that would humanize the fetus — if it’s just a lump of cells, it should make no difference why the woman chooses to terminate the pregnancy.

On the other side, it’s probably impossible to eradicate sex-selection abortions so long as abortion remains legal. Even the legislation will only prevent providers from knowingly performing them. There’s no reason why a woman couldn’t make the choice based on gender and simply not inform the provider.