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Activists Fight Intrusive Abortion Bill That Would Discriminate Against Women of Color

The bill would punish doctors who performed abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus, but activists say that the bill would only reinforce racist stereotypes.

As conservative lawmakers are advocating for an anti-abortion bill that would disproportionately affect women of color and immigrants, female lawmakers are pushing back.

ThinkProgress reports that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which was originally introduced five years ago, would punish doctors who performed abortions based on the gender or race of the fetus in an effort to decrease the abortion rate in certain communities. However, opponents point out that the only way that can be determined is if doctors accept racist stereotypes.

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“Instead of addressing these critical issues, this bill exacerbates the disparities by further restricting certain women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, scrutinizing the health care decisions of women of color, and penalizing health care providers who serve communities of color,” Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference onCiivl and Human Rights, wrote in an open letter to Congress.

Civil rights activists say that Asian women’s access to healthcare could be severely impeded upon if doctors assume that she is seeking an abortion based on the gender of the fetus.

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“PRENDA threatens women’s health and perpetuates the racist myth that Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) families do not value girls,” said Miriam Yeung, the director of the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum, in a press release. “Even though it is cloaked in the language of civil and women’s rights, this bill is antithetical to gender and racial equality. Rather than protect baby girls, this bill will endanger women’s health and restrict women’s rights.” 

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is one of the main proponents of the bill, comparing abortion rates to slavery and the Holocaust. During last week’s hearing, he said that nearly half of all Black fetuses “are killed before they’re born,” though it’s unclear the source of those numbers.

On the off-chance that the bill passes the House, President Obama is expected to veto it.

What do you think of the legislation?