If you had to name the biggest problems facing America right now, would you say unemployment and foreclosures? Perhaps education, international relations, or our military presence abroad? Well, the Republican Party is convinced that yet another abortion bill is more pressing than any of these, and this one is intended to save the black community from itself.
Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz., pictured) is sponsoring the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011, or PRENDA. The bill seeks to “prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race,” and will criminalize the failure of medical professionals to investigate whether women are aborting their babies on those bases.
In other words, any woman pregnant with what may be a black or female fetus can only be granted an abortion if her doctor is sure that she’s not seeking the abortion simply because the fetus is black or female. This would mean at the very least a series of questions aimed at any black woman seeking an abortion, and at worst the reluctance of doctors to treat certain patients at all for fear of prosecution.
At a Tuesday hearing, Franks called the fight to give female and minority babies the same right to life as white male babies the “civil rights struggle that will define our generation,” and presented well-worn anti-choice statistics likening the abortion rates among black women to genocide. Keep in mind that Franks is the same representative who once argued that, because of the disproportionally high rate of abortion in the black community, African-Americans were better off during slavery.
In response, the NAACP and 46 other civil rights groups wrote a letter explaining that it’s access to pregnancy prevention, not discrimination against unborn children, that causes black women to have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy than white women (67% and 40%, respectively). Instead of stripping women of their right to choose, they argue, the answer is to arm women with the information and resources that will help them prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. They further argued that not only does gender discrimination play no role in American abortion statistics, the problem of black women who have abortions because they are pregnant with black babies is blatantly nonexistent.
Representative John Conyers (D-Mich), who has served in the House since 1964 and is one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, openly asked why the memories of two of Americas most significant civil rights leaders are being used to promote the bill by saying “I know more about Frederick Douglass than you do and he didn’t say anything about prenatal discrimination.”
I’m no Frederick Douglass scholar, but I’m pretty sure he’s right.
Is this bill really meant to help the black community? Or has the Republican Party finally outdone itself with the faulty logic in this one?