The Corner

Selective Outrage

While many Americans are upset about the HHS mandate requiring employers — including many, if not most, faith-based institutions — to provide medical coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients, some liberals seem more concerned about a bill pending before the House Judiciary Committee that targets sex- and race-selective abortions.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (PRENDA) prohibits, among other things, coercion of either sex-selective or race-selective abortions; the solicitation or acceptance of funds for such abortions; and knowingly performing such abortions. The bill also provides for loss of federal funding for anyone who violates PRENDA.

Certainly, there are issues with the bill, particularly pertaining to matters of proof (it’s also clear the bill stands no chance of enactment). But it appears the principle objections of the abortion-rights lobby centers on the prohibition on race-selective abortions.

Several states and countries have statutes prohibiting sex-selective abortions. It’s well-documented that in some countries female babies are aborted at a significantly higher rate than males. There’s evidence that sex-selective abortions also occur in some communities in the U.S.

Perhaps less well known is the disproportionate number of black babies aborted in the U.S. Blacks make up 13 percent of the population, yet black women get nearly 40 percent of abortions in the country. A black baby is five times more likely to be aborted as a white baby. Forty percent of all black pregnancies end in abortion, amounting to nearly a half million per year — a figure greater than the number of all black Americans dying annually from heart disease, cancer, violence, and diabetes combined.

As troubling as these figures may be, they’re not proof of coercion or procurement of race-selective abortions. But the statistics highlight a curious indifference by some on the Left to the startling racial disparities in abortion rates.

During my tenure on the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights, hearings have been conducted on all manner of exotic issues involving purported racial disparities. The evidence adduced in some of the hearings showed few, if any, statistical disparities between the races. That didn’t prevent advocacy groups, particularly single-issue organizations, from demanding more funding, more studies, more legislative fixes, and wholesale changes to the ordering of American society to address the alleged disparities.

No such demands have issued from the Left regarding the abortion disparity.

The silence and dismissive attitude among many on the Left regarding the dramatic racial disparities in abortion stands as an anomaly. Why the silence? 


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