Here's what the Senate Judiciary Committee is doing today: holding a hearing on restricting access to abortion. Here's what they're not not doing: their actual job of considering a Supreme Court justice

Today, the committee is reviewing a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy nationwide — a ban so extreme it already failed in the Senate. That’s right: The same Republican leaders who are obstructing a Supreme Court nominee are focusing on a failed bill to restrict access to safe, legal abortion. Why? Because they have wildly misplaced priorities that come at the expense of women’s health and a functioning Senate.

“Apparently Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell are too busy playing doctor to uphold their constitutional duty to consider a Supreme Court nominee when named. Instead, they are spending hours on a rejected piece of legislation that leading doctors flatly oppose.”

—Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Senate Judiciary Committee Obstructs Supreme Court Nomination Process, Attacks Abortion Instead

Republican leaders led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have reached a shocking new low in pushing their extreme priorities. They have:

  • Outright refused to uphold their constitutional duty,
  • Refused to even hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee, and
  • Even gone a step further and stated they would not even meet with a potential nominee.  

As a result of obstructing a would-be Supreme Court nominee, Senate Republican leaders are suffering intense blowback from Americans. In fact, research shows that a large majority of voters in battleground states say that the Senate should do their job and consider the president's nominee.

But public opinion hasn't stopped Senate Republican leaders from pushing one unpopular agenda after another. While shirking their constitutional duty to consider a nominee to the Supreme Court, they have been preoccupied with attacking women’s health care in the Senate. So far in the current Congress, there have been 21 anti-women's health votes. And today, Senate GOP leaders are turning their attention to yet another unpopular agenda of restricting women’s access to abortion.

“If Congress were serious about improving women’s health, they would start by ensuring a fully functioning third branch of government. It’s time to get our priorities straight and quit forcing this obstructionist agenda on America.”

—Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

About the Federal Ban on Abortion at 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

Five things you need to know about this extreme and dangerous bill:

  1. It is sponsored by failed presidential candidate Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and it already failed in the 114th Congress.
  2. It would restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion and tie doctors' hands.  
  3. It would force women who have already been through the trauma of rape to wait 48 hours to get an abortion, and it would force them to see two different doctors, for no medical reason.
  4. Doctors across the country — including American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) — have voiced opposition to similar pieces of legislation.

According to ACOG CEO Dr. Lawrence: “There is no science behind his bill — sadly, just bias,” and medically inaccurate claims made by politicians have been “repeatedly debunked by science.”

Why 20-week Bans are Dangerous and Medically Unnecessary

While women should never have to justify their personal medical decisions, the reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is very rare and often happens under complex circumstances — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.

Abortion opponents in Congress often pursue their efforts to restrict access under the guise of safety — which doesn’t stand up to science. Two key abortion facts:

  • Nearly 99% of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks of gestation.
  • Data, including from the CDC, show that abortion has over a 99% safety record. And studies show women experience serious complications less than one percent of the time.

The 20-Week Ban and the Failing, Unpopular Agenda Behind It

The House of Representatives forced through a harmful 20-week ban last May — but not before the bill divided Republicans. In September, it tanked in the Senate. (Read the full background to the bill.)

While they continue to attempt to force through unpopular bills, Republican leaders remain committed to blocking the basic functions of government and democracy. But Americans are not fooled:

  • A strong majority of voters — 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.
  • President Obama has previously threatened to veto this bill in the 113th and 114th Congresses, stating that, “This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' health care decisions, and the Constitution.”

Bottom line: Today’s hearing is part of a broader effort to chip away at abortion access, and it is deeply unpopular with the majority of Americans.

Take Action

The Constitution places a duty on President Obama to nominate — and the Senate has a responsibility to consider — a new Supreme Court justice. We can't let Republican senators refuse to do their job. Join us in sending a message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators who are pledging to obstruct this process. Demand a timely hearing and a vote for the president's nominee.

Tags: 20-week ban, SCOTUS

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