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Sex-selective Abortion Bans: A Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women’s Access to Abortion

11:22 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sneha Barot for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Republished with permission from the Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2012, Volume 15, Number 2.  See all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) here and all our coverage of sex selection here.

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Among the widening panoply of strategies being deployed to restrict U.S. abortion rights—ostensibly in the interest of protecting women—is the relatively recent push to prohibit the performance of abortions for the purpose of sex selection. Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on having male over female children. There is some evidence—although limited and inconclusive—to suggest that the practice may also occur among Asian communities in the United States.

A broad spectrum of civil rights groups and reproductive rights and justice organizations stand united in opposition to these proposed abortion bans as both unenforceable and unwise. Advocates for the welfare of Asian American women are particularly adamant in protesting that such laws have the potential to do much harm and no good for their communities. Moreover, they argue that proposals to ban sex-selective abortion proffered by those who would ban all abortions are little more than a cynical political ploy and that the real problem that needs to be addressed is son preference—itself a deeply seated and complex manifestation of entrenched gender discrimination and inequity.

Understanding the Root Problem…
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Son Preference and Sex Selection in America: Why It Persists and How We Can Change It

11:26 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sujatha Jesudason and Anat Shenker-Osorio for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

See all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) here and all our coverage of sex selection here. See also this article on PRENDA by Miriam Yeung.

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UPDATE: As of 11:00 am Wednesday, May 30th, the vote on PRENDA has been moved to Thursday, May 31.

Son preference, missing girls, sex selection: We may seek to label these Chinese or Indian issues, but they exist here in America. And with anti-choice crusaders desperate to destroy Planned Parenthood Federation of America, America’s leading provider of affordable reproductive health care for women, the purportedly spreading practice of sex-selective abortion is back in the news. With the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) up for a vote in the House, it’s also back in full force on the legislative agenda.

The extent of sex-selective practices in the U.S. is hard to assess, since it’s rarely something people will admit to doing. But we can take an educated guess by observing alterations in expected sex ratios. If nature has its way, women will likely give birth to 100 girls for every 102 to 106 boys. And among first-time parents in the U.S., that’s exactly what we see.

However, as birth order rises, apparently so does selection — at least, in certain ethnic groups. With U.S. 2000 Census data, researchers investigating Korean, Chinese, and Indian communities found that, after one girl, parents have as many as 1.17 boys per girl the second time. With two girls at home, this goes up to 1.51 boys per girl for the third child. These skewed ratios aren’t present among other ethnic groups in America.

This intentional kid picking takes multiple forms. Now, we can know and thus select for sex as early as seven weeks into a pregnancy, using a non-invasive blood test making big news in popular and obstetric circles. Far more reliable than urine-based guesses from Walgreen’s and far safer than other early use options, this new technique is meant to minimize sex-linked diseases. But this product enters a market where some parents-to-be pine not just for any healthy baby; some want what they see as a particular kind.

Although alarmists cite an undocumented rise in abortion due to sex selection, more and more the interest (and well-marketed new product development) is on meddling before implantation. Techniques like sperm sorting and IVF embryo selection are expensive. Even the most generous insurance package doesn’t cover these procedures when not medically necessary. Yet as of 2006, half of American fertility clinics that offer embryo screening allow would-be parents some form of sex selective add-ons… and the market is growing. Never mind that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has come out harshly against non-medically necessary sex selection, and even the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has issued lukewarm cautions about it.

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“PRENDA the Pretenda:” H.R. 3541 Is An Attack on Asian American Women, and We Know It

11:56 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Miriam Yeung for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

For all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), click here.

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Before the clock runs out on another Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, anti-choice legislators have decided to send the Asian American community home with a parting gift. This Wednesday, HR 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) will be put to a vote in the House. PRENDA would ban abortions sought based on the sex of a fetus, threaten doctors with up to five years in prison for performing such a procedure, and even require doctors and nurses to report women whom they suspect are seeking an abortion for these reasons. While the bill is cloaked in the language of civil rights for women, this bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Rather than lifting the status of women, this bill is nothing more than another hypocritical attempt to ban abortions in this country – this time using Asian women as the excuse.

In my testimony at the subcommittee hearing on this bill in December, I referred to this bill as “PRENDA the pretenda.” The sponsors of this bill are using the guise of “ending discrimination against female babies,” which sounds like a good cause, in order to ban abortion for the very people it pretends to protect: Asian American women. We recognize that this is simply a particularly demeaning way for anti-choice legislators to limit abortion access.

The hypocrisy of the bills sponsors becomes even more clear when we look at their voting records. They have never supported the numerous measures that would improve the living conditions of women and people of color — like the Voting Rights Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Violence Against Women Act.

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New Hoax Campaign in the Wars Over Safe Abortion Care and Women’s Rights

12:33 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Leslie Kantor & Dr. Carolyn Westhoff for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Photo by Bad Lyric Police

In recent weeks people who oppose Planned Parenthood, and our mission to provide high-quality reproductive health care, have been conducting a secret, nationwide hoax campaign in an attempt to undermine women’s access to services.

For years opponents of reproductive health and rights have used secret videotaping tactics with fictitious patient scenarios and selective editing to promote falsehoods about Planned Parenthood’s mission, services, and policies. Recently, one group has escalated these hoax visits in many states, apparently using secret recorders while inquiring about sex selection abortions. We anticipate that this group, likely in coordination with a broad range of anti-abortion leaders, will soon launch a propaganda campaign with the goal of discrediting Planned Parenthood, and, ultimately, furthering legislation that blocks access to basic reproductive health care, including birth control.

We can expect this propaganda campaign to further escalate the political battles over access to health care, rather than focus on the best ways to help women and their families get the care they need.

As a nonprofit health care provider with nearly 800 health centers, Planned Parenthood provides access to professional, nonjudgmental, affordable reproductive health care, ensuring nearly three million patients receive preventive and lifesaving care every year. Without Planned Parenthood, many women would have nowhere else to turn for breast and cervical cancer screening, well woman exams, birth control, STD testing and treatment, sex education, and pregnancy options.

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Creating Jobs? Too Hard. Florida Republican Instead Investigates Planned Parenthood

8:30 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

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Congressman Cliff Stearns. Photo: The Daily Marion

You know how jobs, the deficit, lack of health care, and the country’s economic crisis are top priorities?

Florida Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns apparently does not.

Stearns, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, is using taxpayer funding to investigate Planned Parenthood Federation’s “use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on funding of abortion,” as per a letter he sent to PPFA President Cecile Richards.

He’s doing this even though taxpayer-funded audits have already consistently confirmed that Planned Parenthood follows all the rules.  Planned Parenthood is regularly audited by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Inspector General; state Medicaid programs also regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings.  Given the level scrutiny under which Title X and Title XIX providers already operate and the state-based witch hunts constantly carried out at the behest of far right legislatures, it would seem to be a complete waste of taxpayer funding to conduct this investigation.

Note to Congressman Stearns: Your own state has 10.7 percent unemployment. Think there might be better things to do? Read the rest of this entry →