231 laws restricting abortion access have been passed since 2010, and yesterday’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed in the House yesterday, is one of the worst—John Boehner called it “the most pro-life legislation to ever come before this body.”
Here’s what you need to know:
- It bans most abortions after 20 weeks.
- As Planned Parenthood explains, “Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances.”
- We hope that it’s not likely to become law. It’s unsure when it will reach the Senate, and based on President Obama’s voting record, we are counting on him to veto it if it makes it to his desk.
- The measure was passed 242-184, mostly on a party line.
- The name Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain starting at 20 weeks. At the center of the bill’s argument is the idea that it represents the voices of those who can’t speak: the fetuses.
- If you’re wondering about Roe v. Wade’s role in all this: although Roe v. Wade deemed abortion a constitutional right, states still have the right to determine “viability,” defined by the court as “capable of prolonged life outside the mother's womb.” This is often considered the start of the third trimester, which begins at 24 to 28 weeks—that is, farther along than 20 weeks.
- The bill was postponed in January 2015 when House leaders stopped to revise it. As MSNBC reports, the original bill stated that rape victims could only have abortions if the assault had been reported to the police, but "the new bill instead requires those women to receive medical care or counseling at least 48 hours before an abortion.” This may seem like a concession from the perspective of GOP lawmakers, but it certainly ignores the fact that receiving any treatment in the 48 hours following a sexual assault is impossible for many women.
- Doctors who provide abortions are are also implicated in the text of the bill:
“If an abortion doctor believes the fetus could survive outside the womb, a second doctor must be present to care for it, including taking it to a hospital. Women would also have to sign consent forms describing the fetus’ age and the steps to be taken to save its life,” the Associated Press writes.
- This statement from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) just about sums it up:
"The GOP's latest abortion ban will re-victimize survivors of rape and incest by assuming they are lying and creating unconscionable barriers to care. It offers no health exception and no help to women facing cancer, kidney failure, blood clots or other tragic complications during their pregnancies. This bill is an insult to rape and incest survivors, to pregnant women facing a health crisis and to women everywhere."
The passage of this bill would go against the autonomy of American women. These lawmakers don't get to decide when a fetus is viable, and they certainly don't get to decide that the pain of a fetus is more important than the pain of the woman carrying it. If a law is "protecting" anything, it should be our own health and well-being.
Image via GoldMettle