FRANKS: A 21st-century civil-rights battle

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COMMENTARY:

The most recent U.S. census reveals that abortion clinics are engaged in an insidious form of racial and sex-based discrimination.

In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Columbia University economic researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund said they found a significant gender imbalance between males and females within immigrant populations in the United States, which they think provides “evidence of sex-selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.”

The data revealed unnatural sex-ratio imbalances within segments of certain immigrant populations, including those originating from India, Vietnam, Thailand, Armenia and especially China, where government-enforced “one child” policies and a culturally engrained “son preference” have made sex-selection abortion so prevalent that boys outnumber girls by as much as a 2-to-1 ratio in rural communities.

One Harvard University economist estimated that more than 100 million women were “demographically missing” from the world because of widespread and underreported practices of prenatal sex selection, an astonishing figure.

Regardless of one’s position on abortion, this form of discrimination should horrify every American. The idea of killing a baby simply because she is a girl is reprehensible. Unsurprisingly, a March 2006 Zogby International poll found that 86 percent of Americans supported a prohibition on sex-selection abortion. Indeed, what good are the hard-won liberties of voting and other women’s rights if babies may still be aborted simply for being girls?

Ironically, we are doing a better job internationally on this issue than we are at home. At the United Nations’ 2007 annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, 51st Session, the U.S. delegation spearheaded a resolution calling on countries to eliminate sex-selective abortion. The commission has urged governments of all nations “to take necessary measures to prevent … prenatal sex selection.”

Congress also voiced strong disapproval of the practice when 362 members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed a resolution in 2006 condemning the “communist government of China” for “its one-child policy, which promotes sex-selection abortion and female infanticide on a massive scale, a ‘gendercide’ which has led to millions of ‘missing girls.’ ” Notwithstanding this widespread revulsion of sex-selection abortion and despite proof it occurs in America, sex-selective abortion remains legal and, therefore, tacitly condoned.

Abortion is being used not only to abort boys and girls just because they are boys and girls. Equally reprehensible is the reality of race-based abortion. Last spring, some federally funded clinics were exposed as agreeing to accept funds from persons who expressly asked that their donations be used to reduce the black population by abortion.

The history of the American abortion movement is replete with evidence of the purposeful placement of family planning clinics in areas with high concentrations of minorities. In fact, as many as 70 percent of abortion clinics are located in inner-city or minority neighborhoods. The impact has been devastating to black families. Fifty percent - 1 in 2 - of black children are aborted today in America.

A September 2008 report by the Guttmacher Institute revealed that black babies are five times likelier to be aborted than white babies. A quarter of the black population is demographically missing.

Racism in any form should cause us to recoil, but the reality of these staggering figures should make us all violently ill. Do we realize that, primarily through federally funded abortion clinics placed in our inner cities, we are contributing to the deadliest form of discrimination in our country’s history against the most-discriminated-against minority in American history by systematically eliminating fully half of all blacks waiting to be born?

The United States has worked hard to eliminate widespread and systematic race and sex discrimination, which we recognize as a detestable part of our past. In both race and sex discrimination, Americans ultimately responded in the strongest possible legal terms by enacting constitutional amendments to end slavery and give women the right to vote (the 14th and 19th Amendments), ending the government sanction of such discrimination. However, eliminating discriminatory practices still must be among our highest priorities.

It is past time to reject the discriminatory disgrace of aborting a child based on race or sex. To that end, I have introduced H.R. 1822, the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2009, which would prohibit the practice of, or solicitation or acceptance of funds for, race- or sex-selection abortion.

Americans can support the effort to address this unspoken evil by encouraging the Democratic Leadership, including Mrs. Pelosi, and their own members of Congress to address this insidious form of discrimination by enacting this legislation.

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