Congress has only been back for a few days and already some politicians are attacking women’s health and rights with extreme, dangerous bills. The six anti-women’s health measures introduced so far include terrible bills to defund Planned Parenthood, shut down abortion providers, and outright ban abortion at 20-weeks.
Let’s get one thing straight: American voters do not want government restricting abortion. It’s that simple. Out-of-touch politicians are using these bills to move women backwards. Here’s what you need to know, and what you can do.
20 Week Abortion Ban
On their first day back at work, anti-women’s health politicians introduced a nationwide ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy — Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reintroduced the legislation to stop women from ending their pregnancies with extremely limited exceptions.
Once again, politicians are inserting themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left between a woman, her faith, her family, and her doctor. Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they do happen, it’s often in very complex circumstances. It’s no wonder that 60 percent of voters support access to abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Newsflash: Any 20-week ban would be a clear attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade at the expense of the health of our nation’s women. That’s despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly support the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. There’s a reason why the majority of voters say this is the wrong issue for lawmakers to be spending time on.
Defunding Planned Parenthood
One of a handful of bills introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) would defund Planned Parenthood by taking away important federal funding from health centers that provide abortions. Specifically, it would ban federal grants that millions of women need to get birth control and other basic health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. A bill in the House introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) would do the same thing.
Confused? Let us break it down: Many Planned Parenthood health centers receive federal grants for family planning services through the Title X Family Planning Program, which helps all types of family planning health centers (not just Planned Parenthood) provide birth control, sex education, and other reproductive health services to low-income patients, helping to avert 1.1 million unintended pregnancies per year. Vitter’s bill would block Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving this funding, which would cut women off from the basic preventive health care that they currently get at those health centers.
Targeted Restrictions Against Abortion Providers
Another bill introduced by Sen. Vitter would force doctors who provide abortions (but not any other kind of doctor) to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The three things you need to know about this are:
- This bill was introduced in the guise of protecting patient safety — but this bill won't do that. Abortion is already safe. In fact, it is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. It has a 99 percent safety record, with similar low levels of risk as other gynecological procedures in outpatient settings.
- There is no medical basis for this bill. None. It was written by politicians, not medical experts. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association both oppose these restrictions because they reduce timely access to safe and legal abortion, especially in places where abortion providers are already limited.
- This bill basically gives hospitals a veto power over whether an abortion provider can exist. That could cause good health centers to close, and as a result force a woman to get an abortion later in pregnancy, if she can get one at all.
Bottom line: This bill threatens access to safe and legal abortion, a constitutionally upheld right.
Every person who needs reproductive health care should be able to make her own personal, private health care decisions without interference from politicians. We will continue to fight these attacks on women’s health wherever they arise — in state capitols, in court, and in Congress.
Join our fight against politicians who would take away your right to access safe, legal abortion. Take action now.