The Corner

Today’s Questions for the President

You have consistently opposed any limitations on abortion rights, including parental-notification laws, waiting periods and restrictions on partial-birth abortion. You even opposed the Illinois state version of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, requiring that babies who survive botched abortions be provided care and sustenance as any other baby born alive.

Last week, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (“PRENDA”) was defeated in the House. White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “The administration opposed 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.” Mr. Carney went on to emphasize, “I think we, again, oppose gender discrimination in all cases. I think our record on that is very clear. The president’s record on that is very clear. But the purpose of the legislation — or the result of the legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution for failing to divine the motivations of their patients when it comes to a very personal and medical decision.”

Would you support PRENDA if, rather than subjecting doctors to criminal prosecution, the penalties for performing sex-selective abortions were limited to civil fines and/or professional sanctions? If not (and given your opposition to gender discrimination in all forms), what language would you propose that would both prohibit such discrimination and satisfy your concern that doctors not be subject to criminal prosecution?

Mr. Carney’s emphasis on your opposition to gender discrimination in all forms suggests that, but for PRENDA’s criminal sanctions (and perhaps matters pertaining to proof), you would oppose using abortion for choosing the sex of a born child. If this is correct, how is your position consistent with being truly pro-choice? If it is not correct, how can Mr. Carney claim you’re opposed to gender discrimination in all forms? 

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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