Last night, the US House voted 237-189 to approve HR 36, a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks and to criminalize doctors with up to five years in prison for conducting the procedure.
Both Congressional Representatives from New Hampshire voted against the legislation that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) strongly opposed, stating, the bill “attempts to ban abortions through medically unnecessary cutoff points.”
“This legislation is dangerous to the rights, health, and safety of American women,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, “This bill attempts to put the government between women and their doctor based on inaccurate and unscientific claims. Pregnancy is usually a joyful time, but for some families it poses dangerous health risks and extremely difficult decisions that should be made between a woman, her doctor, and her loved ones, not politicians.”
“As an adoption attorney for 25 years, I understand that the decision to end a pregnancy is deeply personal and difficult and should be made in consultation with one’s family and doctor, not the government,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “The fact of the matter is that abortions occurring after 20 weeks are exceedingly rare and this legislation would endanger women who are seeking such services for serious medical reasons. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to rollback women’s access to comprehensive reproductive services.”
ACOG added, “The clear consensus by leading medical groups is that a ban on abortion after 20 weeks would interfere with the physician-patient relationship at a time when women are in need of empathetic, respectful and evidence-based care. These medical decisions should be made solely by each individual woman in consultation with those she trusts the most, including her obstetrician-gynecologist – not politicians.”
Abortions after 20 weeks are extremely rare. Planned Parenthood notes that 99% of all abortions occur before the 21st week. Late term pregnancy complications such as severe fetal anomalies, pose a serious risk to the health of the mother and create a very complex situation.
In an online post, Planned Parenthood called the legislation, “dangerous” and “out-of-touch” saying it is “nothing more than yet another attempt to restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion.” They also note that attacking women’s reproductive rights and banning abortion after 20 weeks is not what the American people want, regardless of party affiliation.
Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America says that politicians should not be interfering between a woman and her doctor.
“Abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy is rare and almost always medically complicated. There is no place in these conversations for politicians pursuing an ideological agenda with no knowledge of the medical specifics of each case. Women making these difficult decisions need medical professionals, not tone deaf legislation.”
In their statement after HR36’s passage, The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) said,”The bill as passed attacks women’s moral and religious autonomy and handcuffs doctors under the threat of imprisonment from practicing medicine in their patients’ best interest…HR 36 seeks to intimidate medical professionals by criminalizing care — threatening up to five years in federal prison if the law is somehow violated.”
“The House bill is not a sincere effort to protect women but is rather yet another battle in the campaign to dismantle abortions rights — a campaign that has lasted nearly 45 years since Roe v. Wade, the year that the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to choose abortion. If the bill becomes law, it would certainly have a chilling effect on the provision of abortion care in the US, which is exactly what its extreme, anti-abortion supporters intend,” NCJW concluded.
President Trump, who claimed to be pro-choice prior to running for President, said he would sign this legislation.