'Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act' Is Actually Designed to Let Men Block Abortions

Last week, a truly stupid bill authored by Arizona Republican Trent Franks passed out of committee. PreNDA, formerly known as the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenantal Nondiscrimination Act, purports to address the rampant American nonproblem of sex and race-selective abortion. But it seems that the purpose of the law isn't to protect fetuses at all— it's to give men legal right to force their female partners to stay pregnant.

If you blink, you'll miss the chunk of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act that actually reads a lot like a men's rights manifesto, but it's there, loud and clear. An alert reader pointed out that this language (emphasis added)-

`(2) CIVIL ACTION BY RELATIVES- The father of an unborn child who is the subject of an abortion performed or attempted in violation of subsection (a), or a maternal grandparent of the unborn child if the pregnant woman is an unemancipated minor, may in a civil action against any person who engaged in the violation, obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion.
`(3) APPROPRIATE RELIEF- Appropriate relief in a civil action under this subsection includes—
`(A) objectively verifiable money damages for all injuries, psychological and physical, including loss of companionship and support, occasioned by the violation of this section; and
`(B) punitive damages.
`(4) INJUNCTIVE RELIEF-
`(A) IN GENERAL- A qualified plaintiff may in a civil action obtain injunctive relief to prevent an abortion provider from performing or attempting further abortions in violation of this section.
`(B) DEFINITION- In this paragraph the term `qualified plaintiff' means—
`(i) a woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted in violation of this section;
`(ii) any person who is the spouse or parent of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of this section; or
`(iii) the Attorney General.

— would theoretically allow a male partner or an underage woman's parents to file an injunction that would force a woman to remain pregnant by charging her with being motivated to abort by the fetus's race or sex, regardless of whether that's what actually motivated the woman.

As a pregnancy advances, abortion becomes more costly and invasive. Thus, while a woman's parents and partner are suing to keep her pregnant and the legal matter of whether or not she is racist against her own fetus sorts itself out, termination becomes ever more costly and ever more complicated. What may have been a $350 medicinal abortion at 8 weeks' gestation turns into a $600 office visit at 10 weeks' gestation turns into a multi-thousands of dollars kind of serious endeavor at 15 weeks' gestation. So even if it turns out that a judge doesn't think that a woman is aborting her baby because she hates Puerto Ricans or girls, while time passes, a woman could be priced out of the abortion she would have chosen for herself.

But say a woman defies a legal injunction and gets an abortion anyway, or has an abortion without telling her parents or partner, and they later find out. Under this law, an underage woman's father could theoretically sue his own daughter's doctors for emotional damage caused by having a sex or race-based abortion and depriving him of a grandbaby.

This is incredibly fucking disturbing, but this is what we've come to: male lawmakers are attempting to pass laws that would allow a man to sue a woman for refusing to carry his child to term, or a woman's parents to file an injunction to keep their teenage daughter pregnant. But not only are lawmakers trying to write laws that would make a woman's uterus subject to the approval of her parents or partner, they're trying to do it under the guise of "civil rights." Your body, their choice. That's some pretty advanced irony.

[Bill Text H.R. 3541.IH]