Why 20-week abortion bans matter

Steve Benen:

As Republican policymakers nationwide push new restrictions on reproductive rights, it’s amazing how multi-faceted the crusade has become. We’re seeing trap laws intended to close health clinics and mandates for medically-unnecessary ultrasounds and requirements that doctors tell lies written by politicians to their patients and more.

But it’s the 20-week abortion ban that seems to have become especially popular on the right. Of all the various measures, it’s the only one to generate attention at the state and federal level — the U.S. House already passed its version, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reportedly intends to do the same in the U.S. Senate, though there’s some evidence he’s getting cold feet.

I can imagine for some, this proposal may not seem as offensive as, say, mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds that women neither want nor need. After all, the argument goes, what’s the big deal if the cut-off point shifts from 24 weeks to 20 weeks?

Andrew Rosenthal had a good piece answering that question.

The way the Catholic Association mentions “late-term” abortions, you might think the only women who had them were lazy and callous, just waiting around until the last second for no good reason.

But as Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, told me in an email, nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks; abortions later on often involve rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman’s health. In many cases, women are facing the need to terminate a desired pregnancy, not an unwanted one.

Ms. Richards cited the case of a woman in Nebraska, Danielle Deaver, whose water broke at 22 weeks, depriving her baby of most of the amniotic fluid. “Her doctor told her that the fetus could not develop or survive,” Ms. Richards said. “Despite this, she was forced to live through 10 excruciating days waiting to give birth, because her doctors feared prosecution under her state’s 20-week abortion ban.”

It’s exactly why medical associations consider these measures so dangerous.

Indeed, just this week, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published a letter to state lawmakers in Texas, where a 20-week ban is nearing passage, urging them to “get out of exam rooms.”

While we can agree to disagree about abortion on ideological grounds, we must draw a hard line against insidious legislation that threatens women’s health like Texas HB2 (House Bill 2) and SB1 (Senate Bill 1). That’s why we’re speaking to the false and misleading underlying assumptions of this and other legislation like it: These bills are as much about interfering with the practice of medicine and the relationship a patient has with her physician as they are about restricting women’s access to abortion. The fact is that these bills will not help protect the health of any woman in Texas. Instead, these bills will harm women’s health in very clear ways.

We’re setting the record straight, loudly and unequivocally, with these simple messages to all politicians: Get Out of Our Exam Rooms.

The letter is well worth your time.

H/t Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer, Price Benowitz LLP.

One thought on “Why 20-week abortion bans matter

Comments are closed.