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Facts About the 20-Week Abortion Ban

Twenty-week abortion bans are unconstitutional attempts by opponents of safe and legal abortion to impose restrictions on access to abortion. Abortion is a deeply personal, often complicated decision for a woman to make. Once again, politicians are inserting themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left between a woman in consultation with her doctor, her family and her faith.

These laws are rooted in opposition to safe and legal abortion – not credible medical evidence

While a majority of abortions in the United States occur in the first trimester, it is important that a woman, her family, and her doctor have every medical option available. Laws banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy would take that deeply personal decision away. Unfortunately, 20-week bans are already the law in some states, so we’ve seen what happens when politicians interfere in women’s medical decisions and tie doctors’ hands.

Legislation ignores real world situations

Every pregnant woman faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications. It is not always possible for a woman to get an abortion without obstacles and delays. Many things can stand in her way, such as not knowing she is pregnant, needing time to gather funds to cover the cost of care and travel, a lack of doctors who provide abortion nearby, and barriers put in place by politicians. In fact, it is often these harmful and needless restrictions that actually force women to get abortions later in pregnancy.

Women with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, and high blood pressure may face dangerous complications at or past 20 weeks that can put their health in serious jeopardy. Similarly, some women may develop conditions during their pregnancies that seriously threaten their health, such as preeclampsia and placental abruption.

Only one percent of women have abortions after 20 weeks, and these can involve rare, severe fetal anomalies (most fetal anomalies are only detectable a 20 weeks) and serious risks to a woman’s health. In these situations, it is crucial for a woman to have the opportunity to think through her options based on her unique situation in consultation with people she trusts.

This bill also fails to contain exceptions for victims of rape and incest who—for one of many understandable reasons—may not have filed an official report, and no exceptions for when the woman learns that there are serious fetal anomalies. This ban will especially burden poor women who must come up with funds for both the procedure and the trip.

20-Week Bans Are Part of an Agenda to Ban All Abortion

The introduction of these bans doesn’t come in isolation. They’re part of a dangerous, out-of-touch, and coordinated effort to chip away at access to safe and legal abortion. Every time these bans have been litigated, they have been blocked including in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Georgia.