The United States House of Representatives will today mark up a bill that would outlaw abortions sought because of race or sex.
Late last year, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011, which would “prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race, and for other purposes.”
Florida legislators are moving forward a bill that mimics Frank’s proposal. So far, sponsors have not been able to justify a need for the bill, but rather claim it is an effort to protect Florida from becoming a “safe haven” for race- or sex-based abortions.
Reproductive justice advocates have long denounced any efforts to tie abortion to race, which is the crux of this legislation. Efforts to frame abortion in America as “Black Genocide” have grown since President Obama’s election in 2008, and have resulted in elaborate campaigns that spread this association.
Loretta Ross — the president of SisterSong, a reproductive justice collective for women of color — said there is no evidence that supports the need for such bills. She believes these bills are a “blatant attempt for southern Republicans to look like they are champions of racial justice,” while they actually attacking women’s rights. Ross says that painting women as propagators of genocide in this way is an “attack on women’s dignity.”
“Ultimately,” Ross said, “this shows contempt for women.”
Mother Jones reported yesterday that Frank’s bill in the U.S. House is gaining speed. The bill will be marked up today and already has 78 cosponsors, which suggests it “could proceed to a vote of the full House before November’s elections.”
Jones also obtained a House GOP memo (.pdf) being circulated that “argues for a controversial ‘prenatal discrimination bill’ by referring to ‘black abortions’ as distinct from abortions in general and claiming that ‘abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community.’”
According to the memo:
Even more invidious, a thorough review of the American family planning movement reveals a history of targeting African-Americans for “population control,” arguably resulting in the current statistic that a black baby is five times as likely to be aborted as a white baby. Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community. With greater than 450,000 black abortions per year, more blacks Americans are lost to abortion annually than are lost to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, AIDS, and violence combined.
Republican Florida congressmen Jeff Miller and Dennis Ross have both co-sponsored Frank’s bill.