(Photo: Congressman Trent Franks press photo)
Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the author of a bill that would criminalize abortions whose purpose is to eliminate a fetus because the gender is not preferred, said he still supports including a ban on race-based selection in the bill, but that it was removed for political reasons. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday morning.
In an interview with The Christian Post yesterday, Franks said the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PREDNA), H.R. 3541, originally would have placed criminal penalties on abortions that were done because the fetus would not have the preferred gender or race. Republican leaders chose to remove race-based abortions from the bill because they did not want to give the bill's opponents an opportunity to distort the issue
"The left wing in the House wanted to make the race [issue] completely something else than it was," Franks said. "I strongly continue to favor having both race and sex selection in a bill like this. I think that to take the life of a baby because it is a girl instead of a boy or taking the life of a baby because it is an African-American baby instead of a white child, those are all equally horrifying and I think both should be in it. But, we were, again, because of the absolute distortion on the part of some of the most liberal elements of the House, leadership was reticent to allow them the opportunity to demagogue the issue."
The bill was originally called the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. By naming it after two pioneers in women's rights (Susan B. Anthony) and racial equality (Frederick Douglass), the name highlighted both the gender and race protections in the bill.
Some opponents objected, however, to using the names of women's rights and civil rights heroes.
"It is offensive that the sponsors of this bill would invoke the names of two of our nation's historic civil rights pioneers," said Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
When asked about that, Franks responded, "I believe it is a civil rights issue. First of all, the right to live is the first civil right, without that one, you have no civil rights."
The bill will be voted on under a suspension of the rules. Franks explained that this is not uncommon, but does place a high hurdle for passage. At least two-thirds of the House must vote in favor for it to pass.
Republican leaders decided to vote on the bill this way, Franks said, to, again, prevent opponents from demagoguing the issue.
"In part, it's so that the really left wing pro-abortion groups cannot demagogue the issue and make it something else than it really is. This is a simple, straightforward bill. It says that you cannot discriminate against an unborn child, subjecting them to an abortion based upon their sex."
Suspension of the rules, Franks explained, will allow for a simple up or down vote.
"They can't add false amendments. They can't add a motion to recommit which hides the issue. They simply have to vote yes or no."
Franks added that there is interest in introducing a similar bill in the Senate. In the last 24 hours, Franks said, seven or eight Senate offices have contacted him about sponsoring a Senate version.