A bill that would ban sex-selective abortions failed to muster enough support to pass the House Thursday following a contentious debate.
The final vote was 246-168. Though a majority voted in favor of the bill, this particular proposal required a two-thirds majority to pass — supporters of the bill fell 30 votes short.
The proposal would have made it a federal crime to carry out an abortion based on the gender of the fetus. The measure takes aim at the aborting of female fetuses, a practice more common to countries such India and China, where there is a strong preference for sons, but which is also thought to take place in the U.S.
The White House and Democratic lawmakers opposed the bill out of concern that it could end up subjecting doctors to strict punishment, suggesting the law would be difficult to follow.
"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," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
But GOP lawmakers pointed to the opposition as further proof of the administration's abortion advocacy.
"It is inconceivable to me how our Nobel Prize-winning president can refuse to protect little girls from the violence of sex-selection abortion," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said Thursday.
Bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said "there has never been a more pro-abortion president in the White House … I'm astonished the leader of the free world would fail to protect the unborn from being aborted on the basis of sex."
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