Senate bill follows House in attempting to enact unconstitutional ban on abortion at 20 weeks
(PRESS RELEASE) After anti-choice politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a blatantly unconstitutional nationwide ban on nearly all abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy this summer, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today introduced a similarly extreme measure with only narrow exceptions to save a pregnant woman’s life and in cases of rape or incest that have been reported to legal authorities.
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.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Blatantly disregarding the protections of the U.S. Constitution and the health, rights, and dignity of women nationwide, this bill once again seeks to insert politicians between women and their doctors in complicated, highly personal medical decisions.
“Every pregnant woman faces unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications, and must be able to make her own decisions based on her personal values, the advice of the medical professionals she trusts, and what’s right for her and her family.
“We strongly urge the leadership in the Senate to do what the House failed to do and refuse to consider this harmful and patently unconstitutional attack on women’s health and rights.”
An August 2013 Hart Research/Planned Parenthood poll showed that when voters understand the real-world circumstances surrounding abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, they overwhelmingly oppose laws that would ban the procedure at that stage. When reminded that abortions are very rare at this stage of pregnancy and that fetal abnormalities are often involved, a solid 60 percent of registered voters support access to abortion at 20 weeks.
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.