House rejects ban on sex-selection abortion, but GOP makes its point (+video)
A GOP bill to abolish abortion if sex selection is the reason failed to clear the US House on Thursday. But Republicans were able, for a day, to turn the tables on Democrats in the 'war on women,' saying the bill sought to save baby girls.
For a day, at least, the roles in the "war on women" were reversed.Skip to next paragraph
David Grant is a content strategist and former Monitor writer who covered Congress in Washington, D.C. A Virginia Tech graduate, he's also passionate about the Hokies, the Middle East and basketball.
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Republicans, for once, backed Democrats into a politically tenuous corner over a hot-button social issue – abortion – while Democrats cried foul, arguing that legislation before the US House was more political ploy than policy change.
The House rejected a measure Thursday that would explicitly ban abortions undertaken on the basis of the fetus's gender, by a vote of 168 against to 246 in favor. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R) of Arizona, did not carry because it was subject to a legislative rule that required approval of 60 percent of House members to pass.
Democrats, who previously knocked Republicans for their stances on the Violence Against Women Act and who are pushing legislation requiring equal pay for men and women, called the vote a political charade.
Democrats also took a page out of House Speaker John Boehner's book by redirecting discussion of a social issue to the economy.
"We should be talking about jobs, but instead we're spending time on this divisive issue," said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D) of Oregon, on the House floor Thursday.
But conservative groups sensed they had found a way to cast their frequent tormentors into their own choppy political waters with the vote.
"It is to be hoped that even many Members who deem themselves 'pro-choice' will recoil at the notion that 'freedom of choice' must include even the choice to abort a little unborn girl, merely because she is a girl," wrote Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Council (NRLC), in a letter to House members that urged passage of the bill. "Members who recently have embraced contrived political rhetoric asserting they are resisting a 'war on women' must reflect on whether they wish to be recorded as being defenders of the escalating war on baby girls."