Yesterday, the U.S. House passed a bill (H.R. 36) that would ban all abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This bill would endanger the lives and well-being of women, stigmatize those facing difficult medical situations, and infringe on our right to make the most deeply personal of decisions. The bill not only imposes criminal penalties on doctors for providing care to patients who need it, it is also blatantly unconstitutional. Roe vs. Wade required women have access to safe abortion services until the point of viability, determined to be 24 weeks, and beyond viability in cases where the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health.
While politicians argue about restricting access to abortion in the name of being “pro-life,” little to no mention is made of the complex situations that might bring women to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks. There is no acknowledgement that these reasons often include fetal anomalies or pregnancy complications that were not present or could not be found at an earlier stage. Or profound and unexpected changes in the woman’s life circumstances. Or barriers to abortion access that disproportionately impact low-income women and people of color and are actually caused by anti-abortion laws such as these. Nor are there conversations about the incredible force of will these women must have to navigate the exorbitant cost and outrageous inaccessibility of later abortions. Instead, this bill relies on fear mongering and junk science to further block women from accessing abortion care.
When the realities of women’s lives are politicized and debates take place in the halls of Congress instead of, more appropriately, between a woman and her doctor, women’s stories are lost. The real subjects – pregnant women in need of medical support – are not included, their voices never heard.
At any stage of pregnancy, the truth remains the same: the decision to seek an abortion belongs to women, and not to politicians. At Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, We Trust Women to make the decisions that are right for them. Our government should do the same.