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Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I cannot support H.R. 3541, the Republican bill that rolls back critical protections for a women's right to choose under the guise of preventing prenatal discrimination. While the bill's title includes the names of anti-discrimination activists Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas, its anti-discrimination premise is disingenuous--the bill actually reverses the rights that these leaders fought so hard for centuries ago. Rather than protecting women, this bill is just another thinly-veiled attack on women's rights.

H.R. 3541 is legislation for a fictional problem. Statistics demonstrate that sex selection does not happen with regularity in our nation. Specifically, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 91.4% of abortions in 2008 occurred prior to the 13th week of pregnancy, whereas gender identification by the most-common method of ultrasound is not available until between weeks 16 to 20. Further, gender ratios within the U.S. reflect a gender balance consistent with what one would expect it to be. The CIA's World Factbook indicates that the gender ratio at birth 1.05 males to females, which the Guttmacher Institute indicates is ``squarely within biologically normal parameters.'' The United States simply does not have a gender imbalance that would indicate that sex-selection occurs with any regularity. So, if gender selection is not a problem in the United States, one must wonder why the Republican leadership purports it to be one. The answer is that the bill before us simply is a deceptive effort to limit women's choice.

Gender inequity should concern all of us. That we still live in a society that provides preferential treatment to men is deeply disturbing, and Congress should feel compelled to act to correct these inequities. Unfortunately, rather than promoting equal pay for women, advancing protections for all women from domestic violence, increasing access to affordable health care for all women, or addressing racial disparities in health care among women, the Republican leadership offers H.R. 3541 that would undermine the constitutional rights of women under a false cry of gender discrimination. This bill would encourage racial profiling, create additional barriers for women to access comprehensive health care, allow the government to interfere with confidential communications between doctors and their patients, and threaten physicians with criminal penalties for open, honest communication with their patients.

So, I stand with dozens of diverse organizations--including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Public Health Association, Presbyterian Voices for Justice, and the National Women's Law Center--to strongly oppose House Republican bill H.R. 3541. As twenty-first-century policymakers, we should advance the rights of women and minorities, not weaken them. I vehemently oppose this dangerous and discriminatory bill that would limit women's health care options.

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