Washington Digest: Sex-selection abortion bill falls short

WASHINGTON – The House last week shelved a bill that sought to make it a crime for health workers to perform abortions based on the gender of the fetus.

Republican supporters said the bill would attack situations where a pregnant woman wanting a baby boy might choose to abort a female fetus.

The practice is more common in some Asian countries but sponsoring Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said there is evidence it happens in the United States “especially but not exclusively, in the Asian immigrant community.”

“Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are the only advanced country left in the world that still doesn’t restrict sex-selection abortion in any way.”

Democrats criticized the bill as a back-door effort to restrict abortion rights, adding it would be declared un­constitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions.

“This is the latest in a long series of measures intended to chip away at a woman’s right to seek safe and legal medical care,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

The House voted 246-168 for the bill. But it fell short of the two-thirds majority required under the fast-track rules used to bring it up for debate.

Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both R-Nev., voted for the bill. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., voted against it.

During a workweek shortened by the Memorial Day holiday, the House also passed bills by wide margins to reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fees and U.S. intelligence-gathering programs.

The Senate was not in session.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.

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