When a bill outlawing sex-selection abortion was brought up in the
House last week, ABC's Jake Tapper asked White House spokesman Jay
Carney if the President had a position on the issue. Carney didn't have
an immediate answer but later a deputy press secretary sent Tapper a statement which read:
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.
It was no surprise that Obama was against the bill, but the phrasing
of the statement was striking. There is a vague reference to opposing
"gender discrimination," but missing entirely is a forthright condemnation of the practice of sex-selection abortion. Indeed, the statement
concludes by saying the government should not intrude in "private family
matters" which could be read as inclusive of the decision to abort
based on gender.
The White House statement is even more striking when compared to the one Planned Parenthood issued to the Washington Post
yesterday. The entire point of this letter from the "director of global
advocacy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America" is to rebut
the claim that PP supports sex-selection abortions:
In his op-ed regarding the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act [“The real war on women,” June 1], Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) claimed that Planned Parenthood is “okay with exterminating a child . . .
simply because she’s a girl” and referred to a coordinated hoax patient
campaign that used highly unusual patient scenarios in an effort to
discredit Planned Parenthood’s services, mission and values.
Putting aside the fact that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
would have imposed harmful restrictions on women’s health care and would
have interfered with the doctor-patient relationship, Mr. Smith
asserted that Planned Parenthood supports sex-selection abortions. This
is simply untrue. Planned Parenthood opposes sex-selection abortion.
The willingness of the largest abortion provider in the U.S. to publicly oppose any
abortion practice, even in this ultimately toothless way, is noteworthy. It tells
us something about how extreme this practice really is that Planned
Parenthood is concerned about being associated with it.
So why didn't the White House come out and say what even the most
progressives abortion rights activists said last week, i.e. that it
opposes sex-selection abortion on principle (even if only in theory)? Based on the
tepid statement the White House issued last week, it appears the
President is staking out a position to the left of Planned Parenthood on
the issue of sex-selection abortion. If that's not the definition of
abortion extremism, it should be.