The House heard a bill on April 14 that could make it harder for Asian women in America to exercise their right to an abortion. The bill is called the Prenatal Discrimination Act and is commonly referred to as PRENDA. If passed, PRENDA would force doctors to deny service to any woman they suspect is seeking an abortion because of the sex of her fetus and to report that woman to the police.
PRENDA sponsors say the bill would combat sex-selective abortion, in which mothers choose to abort female fetuses in favor of having sons. The practice, which is common in China and India, is also happening in the US, they claim.
But opponents say that the bill is based on stereotypes, not facts. “PRENDA threatens women’s health and perpetuates the racist myth that Asian American Pacific Islander families do not value girls,” Mirian Yeung, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said in a press release. The proposed law would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship if passed, she said.
“It is a nightmare. This is a piece of legislation that would impose criminal penalties on providers and limit the reproductive choices of women of color and all women,” California Representative Judy Chu (D) told The Guardian.
A study conducted on data from the 2000 US Census found that the gender ratio of US-born children of Chinese, Indian, and Korean parents skewed male at a greater rate than the general population. But a more recent study that used data from 2007 to 2011 found the opposite to be true: Overall, Chinese, Indian and Korean parents in the US have more female children than do American parents of European descent.
Congress has heard the case for outlawing sex and race selective abortion before. An earlier version of PRENDA was introduced by Arizona Representative Trent Franks (R) in 2011. It failed 246 to 168 in the House in 2012, but eight states have passed their own versions of the bill. Currently, sex-selective abortion is illegal in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.