Thursday, May 23, 2013
202.667.5881; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF):
Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice is holding a hearing on H.R. 1797, the so-called District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ). This bill would ban women from obtaining abortion care after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia, and Representative Franks has stated that he plans to amend it to apply nationwide.
However, no matter its scope, this bill dangerously jeopardizes the health and well-being of women and is blatantly unconstitutional.
This bill is a clear attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade and undermine a woman’s constitutionally protected right to access abortion care. The Supreme Court has consistently held that states may not ban abortion care before viability. Just this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional a similar 20-week ban in Franks’ home state of Arizona.
Representative Franks should not be imposing an abortion ban on DC or the rest of the nation that was just declared unconstitutional in his home state. Furthermore, a subcommittee charged with presiding over constitutional amendments and constitutional rights should not advance such a blatantly unconstitutional bill.
This bill clearly disrespects women and ignores the real circumstances and complications women can face during pregnancy. Women need access to abortion care after 20 weeks for a variety of reasons.
NAF operates a toll-free Hotline and we hear from thousands of women every month, including some women who have a medical complication or condition that could worsen if they continue their pregnancy; others like Christy Zink, who will testify today, find out in a very wanted pregnancy that their fetus has an anomaly that is incompatible with life. Other women do not recognize that they are pregnant until the pregnancy is advanced—sometimes due to irregular periods, health conditions, or misdiagnosed pregnancies—and some may have to delay care while they raise necessary funds or travel great distances to obtain the abortion care they need.
This bill would deny abortion care to a woman even if her health care provider determines that abortion care is her best medical option. It would also force a woman to wait until severe medical conditions become life threatening before she could obtain the abortion care she needs.
Like other abortion opponents, Representative Franks is attempting to use the highly-publicized case of rogue physician Kermit Gosnell as justification for limiting women’s access to abortion care throughout the United States. But no ban or level of restrictions would have stopped Gosnell, as he blatantly chose to operate outside of established standards of care and the law. Representative Franks’ bill will do nothing to stop rogue, unscrupulous providers, it will just make it more difficult for women to access the safe, high-quality abortion care they need.
Congress should not pass laws that disregard the constitution or the real circumstances and complications women can face during pregnancy. The decision to seek abortion care is one that is best made by a woman in consultation with her health care provider and those she chooses to involve. The House should reject this harmful, misguided, and unconstitutional legislation.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women. Our members include private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for more than half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City. For more information, visit our website at www.prochoice.org.