Despite contentious debate in the U.S. House on Thursday, legislation to ban sex-selective abortions could not muster the two-thirds support necessary to pass, according to Fox News
The final vote was 246-168 — 30 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the Republican-backed proposal, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.
"There has never been a more pro-abortion president in the White House,” Franks said. “I'm astonished the leader of the free world would fail to protect the unborn from being aborted on the basis of sex."
Under the bill, carrying out an abortion based on the gender of the fetus would have been a federal crime. The measure targeted the aborting of female fetuses. The practice is more common to such countries as India and China, where sons are strongly preferred, but is thought to take place in the U.S.
The White House and Democratic lawmakers objected to the bill out of concern that it could end up subjecting doctors to strict punishment, suggesting the law would be difficult to follow.
"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," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Still, GOP lawmakers cited the opposition as further proof of the administration's abortion advocacy.
"It is inconceivable to me how our Nobel Prize-winning president can refuse to protect little girls from the violence of sex-selection abortion," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said on Thursday.
Supporters characterized the vote as a sex-discrimination issue just as Democrats are accusing Republicans of waging a war on women. A day before the vote, Planned Parenthood attacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as planning to "deny women the right to make their own medical decisions."
The legislation would have made it a federal offense, subject to up to five years in prison, to perform, solicit money to perform, or coerce a woman into a sex-selection abortion. Bringing a woman into the country for such a procedure also would be punishable by up to five years in prison.
Franks and others say evidence of sex-selection abortions exist in the United States among certain ethnic groups from countries with a traditional preference for sons. The bill notes that countries like India and China, where the practice has contributed to lopsided boy-girl ratios, have banned the practice.
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