WASHINGTON -- Opponents of abortion gathered on Capitol Hill this week to declare that performing an abortion based upon the baby's sex or race should be outlawed.
An increasing number of unborn babies in the U.S. are targeted for those reasons, which has led to a new move in Washington to ban such abortions.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has introduced a bill to that effect called the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or PreNDA.
Under PreNDA, those who coerce a woman into getting an abortion because of her baby's sex or race could face up to five years in prison. The doctor who performs that abortion could also get jail time.
Franks said it's a bitter reality that abortion is now the number one killer of African-Americans.
"The result of abortion on demand in America today is that between 40 and 50 percent of all African-American babies, virtually one in two, are killed before they're born," Franks said.
And as America's Asian and Indian populations, which often prefer boy babies, have grown, so have the number of abortions to eliminate girls.
Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, and the Population Research Institute's Steven Mosher agreed.
"Today the three most dangerous words a person can hear (are) 'It's a girl,'" Mahoney said.
"Little girls are being sacrificed in the United States by the tens of thousands," Mosher noted.
Mosher, as a social scientist, watched China's one-child policy kill millions of preborn babies, the majority being girls.
"This is the worst form of sex discrimination," Mosher stated. "It's a form of sex discrimination that kills and it deserves to be banned."
But at a House hearing Tuesday on PreNDA, opponents claimed it's the bill itself that's discriminatory.
"This bill places unfair scrutiny on African-American and Asian-American women around our motives for seeking abortion care," Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, testified at the hearing.
"Their true motivation behind this bill is not equal rights, but rather a restriction of women's rights," Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said
But PreNDA's backers insist their motivation really is to protect female and minority children.
"No baby should be targeted for abortion because of his or her sex or race, but that's exactly what's happening in America," said Steven Aden, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, spoke at the congressional hearing about a 2011 University of Southern California San Francisco study of Indian-American women who'd sought sex-selection abortions.
These women testified about the kind of abuse and coercion they faced when they were found to be carrying a female baby.
"Some husbands have even reportedly withheld food and water from their wives," Chabot stated. "Some hit, punched, choked and kicked the women in the abdomen attempting to forcibly terminate the pregnancy."
"I think it's outrageous in a nation where we're so interested, and appropriately so, in protecting women and minorities, yet we turn such a blind eye to the fact that children are being aborted just based on their skin color, just based on the fact that they're little girls," said Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America.
PreNDA supporters said the research clearly demonstrates a bias based on gender.
"A research report by Columbia University several years ago found that in fact there was a disparity between the number of males and females born in certain Asian and sub-Asian populations in the United States," Aden noted.
"There are over 100 million girls missing in the world because they were killed for one reason: because they were girls." Nance stated.