Don’t be fooled: The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act is bullshit

Last week, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona (a white Republican) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011. The legislation would end the utter atrocity of race and sex-selective abortions in the US. Which sounds nice and progressive, until you remember that we don’t have a problem with race or sex-selective abortions in the US.

According to (which I don’t suggest you read unless you want to feel stabby), Franks has said the bill is needed because abortions on black babies are done at much higher rates than abortions on babies of other races. (So he says.) Franks also believes that Asian Americans have brought the traditional practice of sex-selection (and the preference for boys) over to the US. So essentially, he wants to restrict abortion access to women of color in the name of protecting them from their own bad decisions.

Do you see something wrong there?

Oh! It’s paternalism!

It’s mansplaining at the highest level. It’s this:

The reality is that in the US, sex-selective abortion is incredibly rare because 95% of abortions happen too early in pregnancy to detect the fetus’s sex. And, since the ratio of girls to boys has actually increased since abortion became legal, we are definitely not seeing any effects of this practice. I call bullshit.

The reality is that in the US, women of color face enormous structural barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare, including contraception. As a result, they have higher rates of unintended pregnancy. According to the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, reproductive healthcare providers who seek to help these underserved populations get the care they need are actually “eugenicists in disguise,” targeting minorities not to help them–but to convince them to abort themselves out of existence.

The reality is that women of color aren’t buying this bullshit. Anti-abortion activists already tried to pass this legislation at the local level in Georgia; they were defeated by coalition of women-of-color organizations. The anti-abortion group backing the legislation is the same group that put up those billboards in low-income neighborhoods saying “Black children are an endangered species” and “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” Groups like the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective have already called bullshit on the billboards, and the whole damned assumption they make about black women being manipulated into killing their own children:

Black women are not the pawns of these white people who erect such billboards. We find them offensive, racist, sexist and–most of all–disrespectful of our decision making, our 400-year history of raising and caring for black children and our human right to make health care choices for ourselves.

The reality is that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act is not about protecting women of color, but about taking another swing at overturning Roe v. Wade. It’s hard to deny this when is publishing editorials called “Sex-selection abortions a possible opening to overturn Roe.”

A sex-selection ban would indeed present the Supreme Court with a dilemma. To strike down such a law–in essence, to embrace a constitutional right to sex-selection abortion–would expose just how extreme and immoral the Court’s present abortion doctrine really is. To read such a result in the name of “gender equality” would be monstrous and absurd. Such a ruling would undermine support both for Roe and for the Court as an institution, as never before.

So there you have it.

There is no need for a Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act because “prenatals” are not being discriminated against. The only purpose it serves is to scare people into giving up their own human rights, including the right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

So please, contact your Congressperson and call bullshit on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.


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