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Planned Parenthood Denounces House Committee Passage of National 20-Week Abortion Ban
WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood Federation of America denounced today’s House Judiciary Committee passage of dangerous and unconstitutional legislation that would ban abortion at 20 weeks nationwide — interfering in a woman’s ability to make personal decisions about her pregnancy in consultation with her doctor. The committee specifically rejected an amendment to create exceptions and Speaker Boehner has already committed to giving it a vote in the House next week.
On Friday, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, came out against these types of abortion restrictions, reinforcing that they are dangerous to patients’ health and safety.
Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Abortions later in pregnancy are extremely rare, with nearly 99 percent taking place before 21 weeks, but when they do happen it’s often in heartbreaking and unusual circumstances and women and their doctors need to have every medical option available to them. In states that have enacted laws like this, 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.
“We join other medical experts in opposing this dangerous legislation. It is extreme, it is unconstitutional, and it would take deeply personal and often complex decisions about pregnancy out of the hands of a woman and her doctor. In fact, it could criminalize doctors for performing a lifesaving abortion.
“Unfortunately, this is part of an orchestrated effort to roll back women’s rights and access to health care across the country — and it is hurting the women who need more access to health care, not less. Many of these attacks aim to limit — or outright ban — abortion, and they also go much further, to restrict birth control, sex education, and access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care services.
“These bills — both at the federal and state levels — have nothing to do with protecting women or promoting health care and they will not stand.”
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 last month.
- Just two days later, on May 23, Arkansas’ recent 12-week ban was preliminarily enjoined because it “impermissibly infringes a woman’s Fourteenth Amendment right to choose to terminate a pregnancy before viability.”
- 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 the first few months of 2013, more than 300 provisions to restrict abortion access were introduced in state legislatures across the country, signaling this year would be just as bad as the record-breaking worst years for women’s health in 2011 and 2012.
Stories of Those Who Have Suffered when Politicians like Rep. Franks Interfere in Women’s Personal Health Decisions
- 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 his and his wife’s, a surgical nurse, 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. “Imagine how we felt when our ultrasound technician stopped smiling. I am a pilot in the Air Force. Even flying in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan, I had never fully understood the meaning of dread. …. 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.”
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.