If all you’ve heard about the sex selective abortion bill in Congress is that it was shot down yesterday, you might be wondering what’s going on here: Isn’t sex selective abortion a practice that’s pretty generally frowned upon by lawmakers? But there’s a good reason why the measure (officially called the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act) failed—and also why we’ll be hearing about it for months to come.
For the record: A ‘sex-selection abortion’ refers to one in which prospective parents decide to abort because of a child’s sex (a practice made possible by ultrasound technology that makes determining the sex of a fetus fairly easy). It’s most common in places where male children are considered more valuable or desirable—China, India, Pakistan, Korea, Taiwan. The Republican-backed measure that failed yesterday in the House of Representatives would have officially banned this practice in the United States.
So why did it fail? Because it was a bullshit law, more or less (pardon my French). There’s no evidence that sex-selective abortions are even a problem in the United States; certainly, we’re far from what the bill’s sponsor called “a war on unborn little girls.” That’s not to say there aren’t Americans who do abort in the hopes of more favorable genetic odds next time. But as appalling as that might sound, stopping it would require every woman seeking an abortion to explain why they want one.
It would also just be stupidly ineffective. The problem with legislating intention, of course, is that intention is an easy thing for people to lie about.
But stupid and ineffective was really the point of this legislation: Come fall, when Congressional seats are in question, GOP candidates can now point to this vote and accuse Democrat opponents of hating baby girls. Think I’m just being cynical? Here’s the Washington Post (emphasis mine):
The plan all along was to use the vote to paint Democrats as disingenuous in their support for women’s rights by arguing that they voted against a bill intended to protect unborn baby girls.
If you ask me, this is an abuse of political procedure. I know it’s the kind of thing that’s not uncommon, but I just find it appalling that lawmakers waste so much time on stuff like this—think of the hours and energy that went into drafting the measure, getting it to a vote, debating it, voting on it, justifying votes. All for something everyone, even the sponsor f the bill, knows is going to fail (and would be laughably ineffective even if it didn’t fail). And all in the name of being able to use this whole charade of a process to smear Democrats. I mean, I’m of the opinion that politics is, generally, a complete joke in this country. But I hate it when our elected officials so blatantly prove me right.