Subcommittee on Constitution Considers Unconstitutional Ban

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), on today’s H.R. 490 hearing:

Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on an unconstitutional bill that could ban most abortions before a woman even knows that she is pregnant.

H.R. 490, the so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” is the most extreme and earliest ban on abortion care in the entire country, and it is blatantly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has consistently held that states may not ban abortion care before viability. Similar unconstitutional abortion bans have been struck down by the courts in North Dakota and Arkansas.

Additionally, this bill would impose national 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 a chilling effect on the provision of abortion care in the United States, which is in fact one of the goals of the bill’s supporters.

A subcommittee charged with presiding over constitutional amendments and constitutional rights should not advance such a blatantly unconstitutional bill. Supporters of this bill know that it is unconstitutional, and are using it as a barely veiled attempt to make other unconstitutional abortion bans—like H.R. 36, which the House passed last month—seem more reasonable.


The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately 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 and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.

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