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Planned Parenthood: Congress Has No Business Legislating a Woman’s Personal Health Care Decisions

“Decisions about a woman’s pregnancy are not for politicians to make.” – Cecile Richards

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America

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WASHINGTON – Just two days after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 20-week abortion ban in his home state of Arizona, Representative Trent Franks convened a committee hearing today on a similar bill.  Originally, this unconstitutional abortion ban would only apply to women seeking abortions in Washington, DC, but Franks recently announced that he is expanding the legislation to apply to all 50 states as well.  If enacted, this ban would endanger women by limiting their access to abortion even if they learn that their pregnancy poses a threat to their health.

Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Decisions about a woman’s pregnancy are not for politicians to make.  That’s what we’ve heard time and time again – from the courts and from the American people.  These laws are outrageous, they will not stand, and Representative Franks is wasting time and taxpayer money by holding a hearing on his unconstitutional legislation.  Speaker Boehner and House Leadership should put a stop to this.

“Not content just to interfere in the medical decisions of women in our nation’s capitol, Representative Franks has chosen to extend this law to limit access to safe and legal abortion nationwide under the guise of protecting women.  We must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion, and we must reject misguided proposals like this one that would limit women's options. 

“Laws banning abortion beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy would take a deeply personal decision out of the hands of a woman and her doctor. While abortions later in pregnancy are uncommon, it is important that a woman and her doctor have every medical option available to protect a woman’s health. In states that have passed laws like this, some women and their families have been put into heartbreaking and tragic situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so.”  

BACKGROUND:  

In the 40 years following the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, the Supreme Court has never wavered from the principle that the Constitution protects a woman's liberty, including her decision to have an abortion, and that, therefore, a state may not ban abortion prior to viability.  In fact, unconstitutional abortion bans similar to this one have been blocked several times just this year in courts across the country. 

•Arizona’s 20-week ban was ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week.  

•Georgia’s 20-week ban is preliminarily blocked by a state court while a challenge proceeds.  

•In holding an Idaho 20-week ban unconstitutional on March 6, 2013, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote, “The State's clear disregard of this controlling Supreme Court precedent and its apparent determination to define viability in a manner specifically and repeatedly condemned by the Supreme Court evinces an intent to place an insurmountable obstacle in the path of women.”

In states that have passed laws like this, some women and their families have been put into heartbreaking and tragic situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so.

•For example, as the result of a similar measure passed in Nebraska in 2010, a woman named Danielle Deaver, was forced to continue a pregnancy even after a health crisis meant she was going to lose the pregnancy.  She was forced to live through 10 excruciating days waiting to give birth to a baby that she knew would die minutes later, because her doctors feared prosecution under her state’s 20-week abortion ban.  “That my pregnancy ended, that choice was made by God.  How to handle the end of my pregnancy, that should have been private,” Deaver has said. 

•An Air Force Pilot based in Little Rock recently described he and his wife’s difficult decision to end a pregnancy after 20 weeks – which is now prohibited in his state after a 2013 state law enacted over the Arkansas Governor’s veto.  “My wife is a surgical nurse and I am a pilot, but even flying in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan did not prepare me for when the ultrasound technician stopped smiling…. We wanted our child. We do not vote in Arkansas, we are here because I am stationed in Little Rock, and it is where we have to seek medical treatment. Military families like mine with spouses deployed and concerns of their own are subject to this unconscionable law as well.”

Published

May 23, 2013

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Planned Parenthood: Congress Has No Business Legislating a Woman’s Personal Health Care Decisions