Rep. Trent Franks
Photo credit: US Federal Government.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) to fight “a war on unborn little girls.” Franks claimed that 200 million abortions around the world can be tied to the practice of “sex-selection abortions,” particularly in Asia and among Asian immigrants.
In this Washington Post opinion piece, Franks didn’t dispute that the bill targets the Asian community. He justifies it by saying: “The real target in the Asian community here is the Asian women who are being coerced into aborting little girls.”
Strange. As an Asian American woman myself, I was not aware that there was this massive threat in the Asian American community towards unborn baby girls. While it’s true that the abortion rate is higher among Asian American women, there is no evidence that this is due to preferential sex selection.
In fact, there’s no evidence that this is true in China, either. Research shows abortions are highest among young and single women, and point to inadequate knowledge about contraception as a major factor in the 13 million abortions performed in China every year. Even Fox News attributed China’s rising abortion rates to new lax attitudes towards premarital sex, combined with lagging sex education and persistent social stigma towards single women with children.
But if you go by the language of the PRENDA Bill, we might as well be living in Foreign Stereotype World. Consider this:
The targeted victims of sex-selection abortions performed in the United States and worldwide are overwhelmingly female. The selective abortion of females is female infanticide, the intentional killing of unborn females, due to the preference for male offspring or “son preference”. Son preference is reinforced by the low value associated, by some segments of the world community, with female offspring. Those segments tend to regard female offspring as financial burdens to a family over their lifetime due to their perceived inability to earn or provide financially for the family unit as can a male. In addition, due to social and legal convention, female offspring are less likely to carry on the family name.
No facts are cited to back this claim up. But that doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, according to Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), “Today the three most dangerous words in China and India are ‘It’s a girl.’ We can’t let that happen here.”
How dare those Chinese and Indian folk immigrate to our haven of democracy and spread their backward, sexist ways!
But oddly, I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion on my own. Are those three nasty words really more dangerous than “We’ve got nukes,” “They work perfectly,” and “We’re using them”?
The bill failed in the House 246 to 168, but don’t expect Franks to be spilling tears over the lost lives of unborn baby girls. This Washington Post article quoted Franks as expecting the measure to fail, but that, “I think we’re doing the right thing strategically” by forcing Democrats to vote against it. Conservatives admitted their 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.”
“There are other strategies that can go with this. It’s not a naive strategy,” Franks said. The GOP and conservative groups are expected to use vote results to attack vulnerable Democratic opponents.
Wait, now I’m confused. So the point of writing and introducing this bill was to…discredit Democrats? This was all just an election year ploy? Call me naïve, but it really upsets me that these politicians are spending so much time on bills that aren’t supposed to pass instead of working on solutions to real problems. Why are they wasting time on these games to paint the other party in a bad light, when the economy is in the toilet, unemployment is persistent, and Congress hasn’t passed a comprehensive budget in about 123947653 years? Surely there are better things they can do with their time than come up with political maneuvers to alienate Asian American and female voters.
So thank you, Reps. Franks and Smith for pointing out a non-existent problem and creating a solution that doesn’t even protect your alleged victims. You’ve really opened my eyes to the real threat against women: ignorant election year race-baiting in the name of saving poor helpless Asian women from our insidious son-preferential self-hatred. You’re not working to ban sex-selection abortions at all; you’re only thinking of yourselves and how you can gain political edge. Since none of PRENDA’s supporters seem to care that unborn babies are no “safer” today than before this bill was paraded around, I venture to say that it is the legislators who come off as disingenuous in their support for women’s rights.
Perhaps the most dangerous three words in the US today are “Pointless partisan politics.”
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!