House rejects sex-selection abortion ban

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY BRISEIDA MEMA A pregnant Albanian woman watches her baby in the monitor as a doctor performs a sonogram in Tirana on November 9, 2011. In Albania, abortion was legalised on the eve of the Communist regime's fall in the 1990s. Since then, it has become almost a favourite method to chose the sex of its child, several local rights groups warn. According to a law adopted in April 2002, sex-selective abortion is forbidden, but there are no specific sanctions for breaching the law, experts say.
GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP/Getty Images

Updated 2:40 p.m. ET

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - House Republicans have voted against legislation to make it a federal crime to carry out gender-based abortions.

In a campaign year when Democrats are accusing Republicans of waging a war against women, Republicans sought to portray the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act as a women's rights issue.

But the legislation required a two-thirds majority for passage, because of procedural rules, and had no future in the Democratic Senate. The measure failed by a vote of 246 - 168, with 20 Republicans and all but seven Democrats opposing the measure.

The bill would have would make it a federal offense to perform or coerce a woman into a sex-selection abortion.

Opponents said it would subject doctors to criminal charges and discriminate against Asian-American women. Abortions of female fetuses are an issue in some Asian countries where families prefer sons.

Women's health groups applauded the vote. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said, "Rather than attacking a woman's right to choose, lawmakers with a sincere interest in addressing gender discrimination should support policies that work to combat the bias and stereotypes that continue to plague our society."