Is PRENDA Falling Apart? Anti-Choicers Know They Have No Case, and No One Is Sure of A Vote


See all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) here and all our coverage of sex selection here.

The co-launch of the new Lila Rose “exposé” on “gendercide” at Planned Parenthood and the vote on the so-called Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act came forth in perfect harmony – one buoying and leveraging the other. PRENDA was scheduled for a vote yesterday, but was then rolled over to today. 

I started calling around to find out why such an important #waronwomen anti-choice bill in a right-wing House wasn’t driven through like a semi-trailer. From what I can find, it’s  starting to seem like this bill is falling apart. 

Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office denied any discord in the ranks and told me the roll over of the vote to today was just a matter of running out of time. A vote isn’t even likely until at least 10pm.  (Of course as with all things on the Hill anything is possible).

Yesterday the Majority Leader’s office was equally evasive about PRENDA, telling me they couldn’t say if a vote were scheduled on the bill although it was already on the floor calendar.

Trent Franks, (R-AZ) sponsor of PRENDA was impossible to contact. His office was nothing but a series of answering machines – both in DC and Arizona. The Arizona office wouldn’t even let me leave a message.

I reached out to the Susan B. Anthony List to find out why the delay on such an important bill? A nice representative told me that all their legislative staff had “literally” just headed to the Capitol for a press conference – this was as of 10 am. But, he couldn’t tell me what the presser was about nor did he know if the vote would happen today – and told me if it did it would be late into the night.

No one on the right has been forthcoming about this bill. Perhaps it is because the entire thing is predicated on misinformation and religious ideology. Reading through the testimony last year on PRENDA would be a laugh riot of nonsense if it weren’t actually inserted into the Congressional Record. 

There is no real evidence given in the PRENDA hearing to support the GOP’s claim that unborn girls are under siege in America… and I mean none. Census data is offered from California showing the birth of boys increasing in Chinese, Indian, and Korean American households after 1980. There are zero studies of abortions performed for the sake of sex-selection in the United States. 

The rest of the testimony in favor of PRENDA comes from well-known religious anti-choice activists not known for their fact-based arguments: Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and director of African-American outreach at Priests for Life; Students for Life of America; Edwin Black of The Feature Group; The Alliance Defense Fund; and Steven Mosher of Population Research Institute.

Mosher is of special interest because he made sex selection an issue back when Franks originally introduced PRENDA a few years ago. I reached out to the author of “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” Mara Hvistendahl. She has this to say in the book about Mosher’s call to use sex-selective abortion as a political tool:

In 2008 [Mosher] posited to supporters that sex-selective abortion was the next logical battleground in the abortion war — not because it is inherently discriminatory and results in worsening status for women but because an “incremental approach” to restricting access to abortion is more workable than a flat-out ban.

“I propose that we — the pro-life movement — adopt as our next goal the banning of sex-selective abortion,” she quotes him as saying.

Although Hvistendahl had no knowledge of Franks and Mosher working together specifically on crafting PRENDA she told me via email:

“I do get the sense that Mosher and Franks work together quite a bit. They see focusing on sex selective abortion as a great way to divide the left.”

In fact, a lot of the recorded testimony references back to Hvistendahl’s work in Asia as a reason to pre-emptively ban the non-existent U.S. “gendercide” of ‘baby girls.’  Naturally, a red herring but it works for those who don’t care too much about facts and statistics. 

She told me via email:

“It’s a shame that anti-abortion activists in the U.S. are coming at this with the ulterior motive of pushing through restrictions on all abortions — and that they’re targeting a group that today helps a lot of poor and working-class women.”

What Lila Rose’s videos reveal are Planned Parenthood workers responding to a strange question – one they probably have never had to answer before until Trent Franks and Steven Mosher dreamed up a US gendercide: “I want to abort my baby girl.”

What is a provider of legal abortion to do? Dissuade a woman from making a choice that she is within her rights to make? Or, offer explanation of her options no matter what her supposed reason, and communicating the law, as it exists – abortion on demand at specific stages of gestation, as is her right? PRENDA and Live Action’s videos aren’t about protecting girls – it is about robbing women of choices by any means necessary. 

Whether it is through the manipulation of statistics from China or India or as noted in the Congressional record or a 1980 California census showing an uptick in the number of baby boys, the goal is to provide another false alarm for anti-choice advocates to latch onto and ride all the way to November. If they manage to continue to defund Planned Parenthood then so be it.

Finally, after calling around all morning, Steven Ertelt of Life News provided me with an answer via a flurry of twitter exchanges. 

Ertelt told me that the suspension vote in his view was used because suspension is for “non-controversial bills” and this bill should be “non-controversial.” Ertelt confirmed what I expected all along – and what others have said and believed – “Suspension [was used] b/c there are likely enough Dems to kill it and they can be exposed for their extremism.”  

This Democrat “extremism” further fuels the new Republicans meme: this bill will save millions of baby girls! The Democrats voted against saving the lives of potential women! Who’s waging the real war on women, Democrats? We are the true women’s rights advocates!

Exactly. 

You can track and read the bill here. And look for calendar updates on Representative Cantor’s website here.

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Follow Andy Kopsa on twitter: @andykopsa