WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood Action Fund denounced today’s House 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 bill addresses a very rare procedure; nearly 99 percent of all abortions occur before 21 weeks’ gestation, but when it does happen it is often in heartbreaking and tragic situations, such as severe fetal abnormalities. Tonight’s vote comes as part of an unprecedented series of attacks on women’s access to safe and legal abortion at the state and federal level.
Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“This legislation 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. Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of state and federal efforts to restrict women’s access to health care.
“This is part of an orchestrated effort to roll back women’s rights and access to health care across the country. Even beyond trying to eliminate access to safe and legal abortion, many bills across the country would restrict birth control, sex education, and access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care services. These laws are dangerous and deeply unpopular, and ultimately they will hurt a lot of women.
“In Ohio, the legislature is considering a budget that would cut women off from preventive health care, ban safe and legal abortion providers in parts of the state, and would put a gag order on rape crisis centers trying to assist victims. In Texas, the Senate is voting on a bill today that would force all but five of the state’s abortion providers to close. And in Kansas a law goes into effect next month allowing doctors to lie to women about their pregnancy.
“The majority of Americans — across party lines — understand that politicians have no business interfering in decisions that are best left between a woman and her doctor. That’s what we’re going to continue fighting for, even if Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor refuse to listen to a growing consensus within their own party that wants to stay out of women’s personal medical decisions.”
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.
Earlier this month, 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.
Several leading Republicans have come out against recent political attacks on women’s health, including Republican Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) who said “the stupidity is simply staggering,” and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who asked “Why are we having this discussion? As a pro-life Republican, this is not something that’s part of the national debate right now?” You can view more examples here.
• Late Friday after the House bill’s sponsor Representative Trent Franks’ ignorant comments about rape, and after the Judiciary Committee rejected an amendment to add exceptions for rape and incest on a party-line vote, House leadership sneaked in an additional provision allowing rape or incest victims to access an abortion. Unfortunately, the provision creates an unprecedented burden on victims of rape or incest — requiring them to prove they have reported the crime to the police before they can access an abortion.
Abortion later in pregnancy is incredibly rare but when it does happen, it is often a heartbreaking and tragic situation. Nearly 99 percent of abortions in the U.S. take place before 21 weeks’ gestation.
An estimated 25,000 pregnancies result from rape each year and the rape/incest provision would create more barriers to timely care.
• An article published in 1996 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy.
• Guttmacher Institute’s 2008 survey of women obtaining abortions found that seven percent of abortion patients reported exposure to intimate partner violence by the man involved in the pregnancy.