Selective Abortion-Ban Won't Stop Son Preference

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A congressional bill to ban sex-selective abortions and those based on race--the so-called PRENDA bill--poses as a defender of gender equity and racial justice. Sujatha Jesudason says its real effect would be to undermine both.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of abortion for sex selection, because of the underlying assumptions and stereotypes that lead to valuing a child more because of his or her sex.

Generations Ahead, based in Oakland, Calif., is unique among pro-choice and reproductive health organizations. We discourage son preference and sex-selective practices while advocating for reproductive autonomy, including access to comprehensive health care and abortion, particularly for low-income women and women of color.

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We strongly denounce a bill that came before a congressional hearing last week: H.R. 3541 the Prenatal NonDiscrimination Act, or PRENDA.

PRENDA would ban abortions performed because of the race or sex of the fetus. The bill poses as a defender of gender equity and racial justice. But it is nothing of the sort. The bill will in fact have the effect of undermining a woman's ability to make decisions about her own reproductive health. And despite the sponsors' claim that the bill would fight racism, it makes women of color – particularly African American and Asian American women – the targets of racial profiling by providers who risk criminal punishment under the law.

PRENDA--supported by such anti-choice groups as Susan B. Anthony and Culture War Victory Fund--does nothing to change son preference or fight racism. It does not in any way address the serious and complex concerns raised by the practice of sex selection or racial health disparities. African American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women and their unintended pregnancy rate is 67 percent compared to 40 percent for white women.

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