WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. House Thursday rejected a bill that would outlaw abortions based on gender, with abortion opponents promising to make the vote an election issue.
The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was brought to the floor of the House Wednesday. It would punish abortion providers who neglect to determine whether a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy was based on gender, The Washington Post reported.
The House voted 246 to 168 Thursday in favor of the bill, but passage required a two-thirds majority because the bill was brought to a vote under a suspension of normal House rules.
The White House said before the vote President Barack Obama opposed the bill as an intrusion on women's reproductive rights and doctors' ability to perform abortions.
Franks called Obama "the abortion president" and said "there has never been a more pro-abortion leader in the White House in the history of the United States."
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in March found 43 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal, while 54 percent think it should be legal in all or most cases.
Reproductive health advocates have argued the consequences of the bill could deter doctors from performing legal and safe medical procedures, the newspaper said, adding the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which instructs its member doctors not to perform sex-selective abortions, opposes the bill.
Researchers have found the gender ratio is skewed in some countries where sons are considered more desirable than daughters. China has 117 newborn boys to every 100 girls, the newspaper said 2011 statistics show.
In the United States, it is 105 boys to 100 girls, a statistic the Centers for Disease Control said has been "remarkably stable" since the 1940s.
The newspaper said 91.5 percent of abortions in the United States are performed prior to 13 weeks of pregnancy, before gender can be established.
Eight states have considered similar measures this year, and three states -- Arizona, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma -- ban abortions for the purpose of gender selection, the Post said. A law banning the practice in Illinois was overturned in court.