Tuesday, June 18, 2013
202.667.5881; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF):
Today, the House of Representatives passed a blatantly unconstitutional nationwide ban on abortion care after 20 weeks (H.R. 1797). This bill dangerously jeopardizes the health and well-being of women in the United States who need abortion care later in pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Legislators cannot know the circumstances of every woman and her pregnancy, and should not interfere in personal, private medical decisions.
This bill is a clear attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade and undermine a woman’s constitutionally protected right to access abortion care. The Supreme Court has consistently held that states may not ban abortion care before viability. Just last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional a similar 20-week ban in the home state of the bill’s sponsor, Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ).
H.R. 1797 clearly disrespects women and ignores the real circumstances and complications they can face during pregnancy. Representative Franks’ agenda is so extreme and anti-woman that this bill did not originally even contain an exception for rape and incest. The only reason Representative Franks amended his bill last week to include a narrow rape and incest exception was because of the public outcry over his ignorant and offensive statements that incidences of pregnancy from rape are “very low.”
Yet, even with this very narrow exception, the bill would still have a devastating impact on women in the United States. Some women have a medical complication or condition that could worsen if they continue their pregnancy and others find out in a very wanted pregnancy that their fetus has an anomaly that is incompatible with life. Some women do not recognize that they are pregnant until the pregnancy is advanced—sometimes due to health conditions or misdiagnosed pregnancies—and some may have to delay care while they raise necessary funds or travel great distances to obtain the abortion care they need.
This bill would deny abortion care to a woman even if her health care provider determines that abortion care is her best medical option. It would also force a woman to wait until severe medical conditions become life threatening before she could obtain the abortion care she needs.
Furthermore, this bill would impose nationwide federal criminal penalties, including five years in jail, on medical professionals if they provide abortion care in violation of this bill. These harsh penalties would have the effect of chilling the provision of abortion care in the United States, which is in fact one of the goals of the bills’ supporters.
The decision to seek abortion care is one that is best made by a woman in consultation with her health care provider and those she chooses to involve. Congress should not pass laws that disregard the Constitution or the real circumstances and complications women can face during pregnancy.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women. Our members include private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for more than half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City. For more information, visit our website at www.prochoice.org.