Yesterday, (May 31, 2012), H.R. 3541, The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill proposed by Trent Franks (R-AZ) failed to pass the House. The bill self described purpose was “To prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race.” In more clear terms the bill was intended to ban doctors from performing abortions based on the sex of a fetus.
Republican Congressmen who voted against the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), and Ron Paul (Texas).
Ron Paul’s statements on H.R.3541
Mr. Speaker, as an OB-GYN who has delivered over 4,000 babies, I certainly abhor abortion. And I certainly share my colleagues’ revulsion at the idea that someone would take an innocent unborn life because they prefer to have a child of a different gender. However, I cannot support H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, because this bill is unconstitutional. Congress’s jurisdiction is limited to those areas specified in the Constitution. Nowhere in that document is Congress given any authority to address abortion in any manner. Until 1973, when the Supreme Court usurped the authority of the States in the Roe v. Wade decision, no one believed or argued abortion was a Federal issue.
I also cannot support H.R. 3541 because it creates yet another set of Federal criminal laws, even though the Constitution lists only three Federal crimes: piracy, treason, and counterfeiting. All other criminal matters are expressly left to States under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and criminal laws relating to abortion certainly should be legislated by States rather than Congress.
I have long believed that abortion opponents make a mistake by spending their energies on a futile quest to make abortion a Federal crime. Instead, pro-life Americans should work to undo Roe v. Wade and give the power to restrict abortion back to the States and the people. It is particularly disappointing to see members supporting this bill who rightfully oppose ludicrous interpretations of the Commerce Clause when it comes to the national health care law, which also abuses the Commerce Clause to create new Federal crimes.
Pro-life Americans believe all unborn life is precious and should be protected. Therefore we should be troubled by legislation that singles out abortions motivated by a “politically incorrect” reason for special Federal punishment. To my conservative colleagues who support this bill: what is the difference in principle between a Federal law prohibiting “sex selection” abortions and Federal hate crimes laws? After all, hate crime laws also criminalize thoughts by imposing additional stronger penalties when a crime is motivated by the perpetrator’s animus toward a particular race or gender.
I also question whether this bill would reduce the number of abortions. I fear instead that every abortion provider in the Nation would simply place a sign in their waiting room saying “It is a violation of Federal law to perform an abortion because of the fetus’ gender. Here is a list of reasons for which abortion is permissible under Federal law.”
Mr. Speaker, instead of spending time on this unconstitutionally, ineffective, and philosophically flawed bill, Congress should use its valid authority to limit the jurisdiction of activist Federal courts and (thereby) protect state laws restoring abortion. This is the constitutional approach to effectively repealing Roe v. Wade. Instead of focusing on gimmicks and piecemeal approaches, true conservatives should address the horror of abortion via the most immediate, practical, and effective manner possible: returning jurisdiction over abortion to the States.
Justin Amash’s statements on H.R.3541
When did Republicans start supporting hate-crime legislation? Hate-crime bills, like H R 3541, are apparently okay if they have to do with a baby’s gender but not okay if they have to do with a person’s skin color or sexual orientation. Or maybe they’re okay if it’s an election year and Republicans are trying to make the President look like he doesn’t care about women. I am appalled and outraged that we would take an issue as sacred as life and use it so cynically as a political weapon.
Republicans, and especially conservatives, should oppose abortion. Period. H R 3541 criminalizes the MOTIVE for getting an abortion. In other words, it keeps all abortions legal except those obtained for the “wrong” reasons. But ALL abortions are wrong. And criminalizing motive makes this simply another hate crime. Literally the only difference between a legal and an illegal abortion under the bill is whether the “abortion is sought based on the sex or gender of the child.”
The bill also shockingly makes it a crime for a medical or mental health professional NOT to turn in someone who they SUSPECT of having committed this thought crime. They can be thrown into prison for a year if they don’t “report known or suspected violations . . . to appropriate law enforcement authorities.” Free societies do not criminalize inaction.
I’m pro-life, and I think all abortion should be illegal. But Congress should not criminalize thought. And this bill won’t stop a single abortion if it becomes law. Every person seeking an abortion simply will sign a form stating her motive is not the sex of the baby. Those of us who are pro-life should demand more from Congress. While we waste time on stuff like this, genuine legislation to protect life is ignored.