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Planned Parenthood: Extreme 20-Week Abortion Ban Takes Personal Medical Decisions Out of the Hands of Women and Their Doctors
60 Percent of Americans Support Access to Abortion at 20 Weeks in Cases of Severe Fetal Abnormalities
Washington, DC – Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards strongly condemned dangerous legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham that would ban abortion at 20 weeks nationwide. Bills like this one are deeply unpopular with Americans, with recent polling revealing that when voters understand the real-world circumstances surrounding abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, they overwhelmingly oppose bills like the one introduced by Senator Graham today.
“Senator Graham is pushing a dangerous and extreme bill that doctors and medical experts agree has no basis in medicine,” said Richards. “Abortion is a deeply personal, often complicated decision for a woman to make. These decisions should be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor, her family, and her faith – not by politicians.
“While no woman should have to justify her personal medical decisions, the reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is very rare and often happens under heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. Politicians have no place in that conversation.”
Nearly 99% of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks’ gestation. When abortion later in pregnancy does happen, it is often in a situation where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.
In states that have passed laws that ban abortion after 20 weeks, some women and their families have been put into unimaginable situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so.
Julie Bindeman and her husband found themselves in just this situation. They decided that they wanted to have a second child. She went in for a routine doctor’s visit and went for a 20-week scan to determine whether they were having a boy or a girl. The doctor looked at her and said, “I’m so sorry. What they found at the scan was that the brain ventricles were enlarged.” The doctor told them that other aspects of the brain were very malformed — diagnosing ventriculomegaly with the likelihood of anencephaly, a severe fetal abnormality incompatible with life.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” Julie Bindeman said. “This has to do with the choices that my husband and I needed to make.”
To illustrate the effect such a law would have on women like Julie and their families, Planned Parenthood is sharing videos in which Julie and two other women tell their powerful, heartbreaking stories of abortion later in pregnancy:
“What these women’s stories show is that every woman’s situation is different,” said Richards. “That’s why doctors and other health care professionals are so opposed to these dangerous bans: they prevent doctors from giving their patients the best health care possible in an individual situation.”
Recent Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to 20-Week Bans
Recent polling of voters from all major parties shows that when voters understand the real-world circumstances surrounding abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, they overwhelmingly oppose laws that would ban the procedure at that stage.
The poll found that:
- A solid 60 percent of registered voters support access to safe and legal abortion at 20 weeks in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, with only 33 percent opposing access.
- Sixty-six percent (66%) of all voters say abortions should be legal after 20 weeks if a woman’s doctor determines that the woman would suffer serious, long-lasting health problems if she carried the pregnancy to term;
- Sixty-one percent (61%) of all voters say abortions should be legal after 20 weeks if a woman's doctor determines that the fetus is not yet viable and the woman and her family determine that her health and personal circumstances are such that she should not continue her pregnancy; and
- Sixty-one percent (61%) of all voters say abortions should be legal after 20 weeks if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
The poll also shows that the overwhelming majority of voters say this is the wrong issue for Congress and state legislators to be spending time on.
- A strong majority of voters – both Republicans (62 percent), Democrats (78 percent), and Independents (71 percent) – say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.
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 nearly 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.