Florida Sex-Selective Abortions Ban Proposed By Rep. Charles Van Zant

A Florida representative filed an anti-abortion bill Monday that he claims protects the rights of women -- those in the womb -- despite a lack of evidence that female infanticide is actually a problem.

Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Keystone Heights) filed HB 845, which requires anyone performing an abortion to first sign an affidavit stating that he or she has no knowledge that the pregnancy is being terminated on the grounds of sex or race.

The bill holds that "women are a vital part of American society and culture and possess the same fundamental human rights and civil rights as men" and cites a "growing sex-determination niche industry" that leads to female infanticide.

When HuffPost Miami spoke with Van Zant by phone, he was unable to provide specific cases when abortion was performed based on either sex or race, or any examples of a growing "sex-determination niche industry."

"It doesn't matter," Van Zant said. "I certainly think that the debate and discussion ought to be heard."

The issue was already hotly debated in Washington, D.C. last year when Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, similarly aiming to ban sex- and race-selective abortions on the federal level.

Adding to the debate, pro-life group Life Action released a video of a Planned Parenthood employee allegedly counseling a woman on how to get an abortion if the baby's sex is undesired.

Meanwhile Planned Parenthood said the filmed employee wasn't following protocol. "We oppose sex selection abortion," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "But this bill does nothing to advance protections against discrimination and instead will have the result of further shaming and stigmatizing women."

Blog for Choice said Franks and his supporters were "exploiting the very real problems of sex discrimination and gender inequity to launch a sneak attack on a woman's right to choose. It's cynical and it's disgusting."

In May the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act failed in the House, just 30 votes shy of passing.

Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan called the reasoning behind such anti-discrimination abortion bills "a conservative fable drummed up to scare moderates into supporting abortion restrictions."

She also points out that a comparison of Centers for Disease Control data on sex ratios for 1983 and 2009 shows that the gender birth ratio is actually pretty steady. In 2009, 1,048 boys were born for every 1,000 girls. Thirty years earlier, 1,052 boys were born to every 1,000 girls.

HuffPost Miami asked Van Zant about the likelihood of Florida passing an anti-discrimination abortion bill when one just failed in the U.S. House. "I have every hope," he said, though he noted that he wasn't familiar with the history of the bill on the federal level.

Last year, Van Zant tried to ban all abortions in what the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates called "one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country." The measure later died in the Health and Human Services Quality Subcommittee.

He reintroduced the bill, called the Florida For Life Act, in January on the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

CORRECTION: The original story misstated the name of the federal bill, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.



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