The House of Representatives failed on Thursday to pass the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act which would criminalize aborting a fetus because they are not a preferred gender.
The vote, 246-168, required a two-thirds majority because it was brought to vote under suspension of the rules. Most Republicans voted for it while most Democrats voted against it.
"Worldwide now, we're probably missing 200 million girls because of sex-selective abortions and in America we have now allowed thousands of little girls to be dismembered, usually late in the pregnancy when they can feel extreme pain, simply because they are little girls. And, it's gotten so that the most deadly words on the planet anymore are, 'it's a girl,'" Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the sponsor of the bill, told The Christian Post Wednesday. "We have a responsibility as a human family to be outraged by that. It should assault our conscience. And we should do what's necessary to end it."
The bill originally contained language that would criminalize abortions based upon both gender and race. The race-based abortions were removed from the bill, Franks told CP, because Republican leaders did not want to give opponents an opportunity to "demagogue" the bill over race issues.
John Conyers (D-Mich.), an opponent of the bill, argued during Wednesday's debate on the House floor that it was "intended to chip away at a women's right to seek safe, legal medical care" and "it tramples the rights of women under the guise of nondiscrimination."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), another opponent of the bill did not dispute that sex-selective abortions are taking place, and most of them are female due to a preference for male children, but said the bill would not help women pressured to abort females.
Instead, Nadler argued, the legislation would put "women's lives in jeopardy and [violate] women's human and reproductive rights."
"Where is the legislation to providing women with the means to achieve independence so that they are not subject to community and family pressures?" Nadler asked.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) criticized Democrats who accused Republicans of engaging in a war against women and then opposed the bill.
"There can be no rights for women," Buerkle argued, "if we don't allow them the right to life. ... This is the ultimate war on women. If we don't allow women to be born, we cannot talk about any other rights."
President Barack Obama came out in opposition to the bill late Wednesday. A White House spokesperson told ABC News that Obama believes the bill interferes too much with the doctor/patient relationship.
"The Administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, but the end result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations behind a very personal and private decision. The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way," the spokesperson wrote.
Attention was brought to the issue this week after a pro-life group, Live Action, posted an undercover video showing a Planned Parenthood employee advising a woman on the best way to achieve a sex-selective abortion. Planned Parenthood said the video misrepresented the organization and sex-selective abortions are highly unusual. The employee was fired.
Franks told CP he could not understand how Planned Parenthood could both be opposed to sex-selective abortions and opposed to his bill.
"The schizophrenia that Planned Parenthood is showing here is dumbfounding. On the one hand, they say they're against this bill but they say that sex-selective abortion is a terrible thing. So I don't really know what to make of their messaging at this point."