Center for Reproductive Rights: “Elections should never determine constitutional rights”
(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights applauds voters in Albuquerque, NM for rejecting the nation’s first-ever municipal ballot measure banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy with only narrow health exceptions.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Today Albuquerque voters have rejected a measure that would have compromised women’s health and safety and stripped them of their ability to make complicated, personal, and often very difficult medical decisions.
“But in spite of this victory, this vote illustrates the very real threat that essential women’s health care continues to face from those who seek to make it illegal, indifferent to the devastating consequences that women will suffer.
“Women’s constitutional rights and access to reproductive health care should not depend on where she lives, and no woman should ever have to worry that a public vote will be used to diminish either one.”
Bans on abortion at 20 weeks are as dangerous as they are unconstitutional, coming at a point at which a woman is just receiving the results of critical tests to determine the health of her pregnancy—and potentially the presence of life-threatening fetal abnormalities.
Since Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently upheld a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy prior to fetal viability. The court has also found that any restrictions on abortion must include an exception for when an abortion is “necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health” of a woman.
Following a lawsuit filed by the Center and the ACLU, a similar ban passed in Arizona was permanently blocked by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2013. Furthermore, a similar law in Idaho was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district judge earlier this year and a state court temporarily blocked a 20-week ban in Georgia in December 2012.
Harmful and unconstitutional bans like these further underscore the need for the recently-introduced federal Women’s Health Protection Act—an historic piece of legislation designed to enforce and protect the rights of every woman to obtain a full range of safe and legal reproductive health care and decide for herself whether to continue or end a pregnancy, regardless of where she lives, within the framework of regulations and limits recognized in Roe v. Wade.