Measure nearly identical to recently passed House measure banning abortion after 20 weeks, includes cruel 48-hour waiting period for rape survivors
(PRESS RELEASE) Today Senator Lindsay Graham led a group of anti-choice lawmakers in introducing a bill that would ban abortion in the United States at 20 weeks—a cruel and unconstitutional measure with only narrow exceptions for women with life-threatening conditions, rape survivors who have received medical care or counseling for the sexual assault at least 48-hours prior to receiving care, and minors who have reported rape or incest to law enforcement or child protective services.
In addition to outright banning these safe and legal services for most women who will need them, this unconstitutional bill also imposes a mandatory 48-hour waiting period for rape survivors, requiring adult patients to obtain medical care or counseling from a state-licensed counselor or victims’ rights advocate for their assault at least two days prior to receiving abortion services. For minors who have become pregnant after rape or incest, they are still required to report the crime to law enforcement or child protective services.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“At a moment when women’s access to essential reproductive health care is in greater peril than at any time since Roe v. Wade, Congress should be acting to alleviate the crisis, not worsen it.
“While anti-choice politicians in Congress work relentlessly to criminalize abortion later in pregnancy, their counterparts in state legislatures are making it increasingly difficult or impossible to get safe, legal care even in the first trimester.
“This has to stop. It’s time to advance legislation such as The Women’s Health Protection Act that promotes access to the care and services supporting women’s health, safety, and empowerment, not bills like this one that insult women’s dignity and threaten their lives.
“We urge Senator Graham’s fellow Senators to do what he has failed to do: act for women across the U.S. and resoundingly reject this dangerous bill.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act, which was reintroduced in the Senate and House earlier this year, would prohibit politicians from imposing harmful measures such as this abortion ban and other restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held—first in Roe v. Wade and again in Planned Parenthood v. Casey—that states cannot ban abortion prior to viability. Last year, the Supreme Court refused to review a decision permanently blocking Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, and courts in Idaho and Georgia have also recently blocked similar pre-viability bans.
Bans on abortion at 20 weeks take critical medical decisions out of the hands of women and their trusted health care providers at a time when those services may be the best medical option for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, measures like Senator Graham’s ban on abortion prohibit services 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 complications and severe fetal abnormalities.
The devastating impact of these cruel laws are evident in stories like Whitney’s, a woman who has spoken out about her experience needing an abortion after 20 weeks in North Carolina, one of 11 states in the U.S. where the services are currently banned. After receiving a difficult diagnosis, she was forced to travel out of state to get the safe, legal care she needed and had a constitutional right to obtain.