Yesterday the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, a bill that would ban sex-selective abortions in the U.S., garnered an overwhelming majority vote in the House, 246-168.

But PRENDA still failed. Why?

Simply, the vote procedure used (“Suspension of the Rules”) required a two-thirds majority to pass.

Why not go for majority vote?

If such an overwhelming number of congresspersons were known to support PRENDA, why didn’t Republican House leaders follow a route to passage that only required a simple majority?

To back up, PRENDA is not dead. It is still live and can be called again for a vote at any time, leaving the other side to worry whether they will see PRENDA return to the House floor for another vote yet this year.

Achieved yesterday was a clean vote. Every other procedure to pass a freestanding bill would have afforded the opposition an opportunity to submit at least one amendment. If that had happened, we would have seen a lot of pro-abortion House members vote for some counterfeit alternative – an amendment dressed up to look like a limitation on sex-selection abortions but really hollow and acceptable to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry – before they voted against the real ban.

The pro-abortion Members would then have been able to claim they voted for something condemning sex-selection abortions – the sham ban.

“Using Suspension of the Rules removed the opportunity for phony cover votes,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life.  “As a result, the majority was probably bigger than it would have been if a ‘multiple choice’ procedure had been used.”

Abortion proponents apply this tactic all the time. They particularly like to hide behind health exceptions to pro-life bills, which we all know only gut them.

Learning from history

The other side used this tactic repeatedly, for instance, during the decade-long fight over the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Americans were repulsed by PBA, but with fraudulent language added, pro-abortion politicians were able to say they voted for the ban, and even point to their vote, when they actualy actually voted against a clean ban.

Yesterday abortion opponents didn’t get to hide. And we learned something new. We learned President Obama thinks “choice” must include sex-selection abortions, a position 77% of Americans find abhorrent.  Those who still may try to call Obama “moderate” are losing ground.

Yesterday’s vote left abortion proponents floundering to explain why they oppose female gendercide but support sex-selective abortions.


The inevitable passage of PRENDA has taken its first step. And the other side was lured into the debate, which will turn out to be quite unhelpful for them. On May 29, before the vote, Wesley Smith wrote at First Things:

Pro lifers are attacking the abortion license piece, by piece, by piece….

[E]xpect federal and state legislation seeking to outlaw sex selection abortion… [which] would put the pro choice side into a tight political box. If they let it go, they would be admitting that there is a reason for abortion that is so illegitimate it should be outlawed. But if they oppose, they are in the position of defending sex selection.

I predict that latter will be seen as preferable to the former. Thus, once such a law is enacted, look for PP, other pro choice groups and the ACLU to sue to legally prevent the legal prevention of sex selection abortions.  That would transform  ”female feticide” into the next “partial birth abortion” and materially help the pro life cause.

Support for abortion slipped greatly during the 90s when Americans learned and relearned (due to President Clinton’s two vetoes) the horrors of the partial birth abortion procedure.

Likewise, the other side will lose ground in the court of public opinion as they battle a pro-life law that will ban law sex-selective abortions.

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