Texas House Rep Allen Fletcher Files Bill To Tackle Non-Existent Problem of Sex-Selective Abortion

Categories: Politics

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Rep. Fletcher with Governor Perry

With the shiny new session of the Texas Legislature a mere six days away, your lawmakers are gearing up to debate some important issues, like handsy TSA agents and whether we should drug-test people who have the audacity to file for emergency welfare relief. But, as ever, some legislators are most concerned with all things uterus-related. House Rep. Allen Fletcher of Harris County's District 130 has filed the newest piece of anti-abortion legislation, which would ban "sex-selective" abortions, or what he refers to as "pre-natal discrimination."

Fletcher, a former Houston police officer and current vice chair of the Homeland Security & Public Safety committee, filed the bill on December 19. If passed, it would stipulate that a person "may not knowingly perform or attempt to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman knowing that the abortion is based on the sex of the pregnant woman's unborn child."

Although the women having the abortion wouldn't face any criminal charges, a doctor who violated the law could have their license suspended or revoked. More disturbingly, the bill also stipulates that the father of the "unborn child" could legally sue for damages if a sex-selective abortion took place. In fact, the bill says that the father or the maternal grandparent of the fetus (if the pregnant woman is under 18) could sue for "injunctive relief." That means they could try to block the abortion from happening, if they claimed it was being performed based on the sex of the fetus.

First, a little background. Pro-life groups in the United States have taken up sex-selective abortion as a cause celebre in the past year or so, insisting that minority communities, (specifically Indian and East Asian ones) are aborting female fetuses at an "alarming rate," as Texas Right to Life puts it.

"It's very sad to see innocent life end because that child was not the correct sex for the mother, " Fletcher said in a press release announcing his bill. "The targeted victims of this horrifying practice are overwhelmingly female. Prenatal discrimination is unacceptable and I proudly stand by this important legislation." (Interestingly, there was absolutely no response to the bill from the two main anti-abortion groups in the state, Texas Right to Life and Texas Alliance for Life. TRL is still touting their Rick Perry-supported "fetal pain" measure, although it still hasn't been filed.)

In reality, the Guttmacher Institute, widely considered the best resource on reproductive health, says that while sex-selective abortion is common in East and South Asia, there's no data indicating that it's a serious problem here, although it may be occurring on a (very) small scale:

In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities, although the U.S. sex ratio, at 1.05 males for every female, is squarely within biologically normal parameters.

As this Washington Post piece points out, the Center for Disease Control says the male to female birth ratio in the United States has remained "remarkably stable" since the 1940s. Moreover, about 90 percent of abortions happen in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, before the sex of the fetus can be determined.

Sex-selective abortion bans are currently on the books in Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois, while a similar law is pending in Kansas. But an attempt to pass the "Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act" through Congress failed earlier this year. A Guttmacher analysis calls these laws "disingenuous," arguing they "would do nothing to address the entrenched gender bias that underlies the practice, but instead would harm women's health and rights."

In other words: This bill aims to solve a non-existent problem, outrages "a broad spectrum of civil rights groups and reproductive rights and justice organizations" as Guttmacher puts it, and would further nick away at abortion access for Texas women. Sounds like a slam-dunk.



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14 comments
joearpaio
joearpaio

Politicians masquerading as people who accomplish important tasks in their work.  Sickening.

Miranda Glover
Miranda Glover

So racist! Not to mention sexist. Not surprised he's Republican.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I can see the thinking that promotes this  law using a foothold  to reach past the Abortion procedure rooms and in a short time  invoking highly  restrictive rules in Consultation rooms and laboratory's of fertility Clinics .



Will Tillman
Will Tillman

Isn't that the name of the Republican game: who cares if it ain't broke, still fix it?

bifftannen
bifftannen

I can see why they'd want to stop this. If we had the ability to abort stupid babies, we'd have no Republicans. They're just trying to preserve their kind, how cute.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

and people wonder why we let them meet for only 140 days in odd numbered years ...


But what the hey! ... if you can throw a bone to your pinhead constituents that doesn't cost you anything, then why not ...

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 I'm sorry, I could've made that clearer. Last legislative session, Kansas adopted a very broad reproductive health bill. According to Guttmacher it includes: "A provision that would prohibit individuals from claiming a tax credit for the amount spent to purchase a rider for insurance coverage of abortion. The bill would also amend the state laws on postviability abortion, abortion at 20 weeks postfertilization, abortion counseling, provider liability, abortion training programs, abortion based on gender, tax credits for organizations that provide abortions, and sex education."

There hasn't been any further action and the it hasn't been signed into law yet, because the Legislature is adjourned. They'll reconvene on January 14, I believe.

That help? 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

Or rather, the House adopted it and the Senate hasn't yet. Possibly they won't. Probably they will. Then it'll go to the governor. Who'll definitely sign the thing. Why do I only have 5 minutes to edit? Goddamn. 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@GuitarPlayer Ba ha ha. You like how I  made that all about me? When it totally wasn't?   

I dunno what that pending shit is about, in that case. Never seen that before. I can be of no help; if you continue to have a problem though, email Joe at joe.tone@dallasobserver.com, or our web editor Nick, at nick.rallo@dallasobserver.com, and maybe they'll know what's up. 

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@Anna_Merlan Anna, I want to thank you for your replies, but last night when I submitted a reply it said it was "pending". Sorry for the confusion.

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