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20-Week Abortion Ban in Courts of Justice Committee
Update, February 1, 2017
Over the past six weeks, we called on Virginians to contact members of the Courts of Justice committee to oppose HB 1473, a ban on abortion at 20 weeks. This dangerous and unconstitutional measure aims to put politicians in the middle of Virginia women and families' personal decisions about pregnancy and cut off access to safe medical care. Over 400 Virginians joined us in taking action to contact their representatives on the committee and urge them to reject this bill!
On February 1, Courts of Justice Committee Chair Delegate Dave Albo decided he would not hold a hearing or vote on this bill. We are glad that the committee heard the opposition from Virginians and that this harmful measure will not advance this year!
However, with current Republican gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart pledging they would support such a bill if elected, we are concerned that the committee leadership tabled the bill as an opportunity to avoid taking a vote on such controversial legislation in an election year. We will continue to press the issue with lawmakers and stand up against this threat to a woman's ability to make the personal decisions about pregnancy that are right for her and her family.
What to know about 20-week abortion ban legislation:
- Bans on abortion like this one would criminalize access to safe medical care and take away a woman's ability to make the decisions that are right for her with the expert guidance of her trusted health care providers. A woman's health and the well-being of herself and her family should guide her decisions throughout pregnancy -- not the opinions or agendas of politicians who do not know her or her circumstances but think they know what is best.
- This is just one more piece of a larger political agenda to make accessing safe, legal abortion care as difficult as possible and take away a woman's ability to make the personal decisions about pregnancy that are right for her and her family. Bills like this one are an attempt to undermine the constitutionally-protected right to abortion, and 20-week ban bills passed in other states are currently being challenged in court as unconstitutional. We know that a majority of Americans and Virginians – nearly 7 in 10 – believe in protecting a woman’s right to legal abortion under the Roe v. Wade ruling.
- We cannot know all the individual medical or personal circumstances behind a woman's decision to have an abortion. There are circumstances where a woman could need an abortion that she could not have known about earlier, such as a threat to her health or the diagnosis of a serious problem with her pregnancy. Sometimes a woman might not be able to have an abortion as soon as she decides to because of barriers like cost or the lack of a local provider.
- The bottom line is that every woman or family's situation is different, and politicians have no place interfering in what are deeply personal and often difficult decisions. When a woman has made the decision to end her pregnancy, we should not stand in her way of accessing the safe health care services she needs.
- Medical experts in women's health like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose abortion bans such as this one that make unsubstantiated claims about fetal pain and use that as a pretense to criminalize abortion care. Women look to their trusted health care providers, not politicians, for medical information and advice on their pregnancies.
- Abortion bans take away every woman's right to her full range of options when making important personal decisions about pregnancy with her family and her doctor. Like any restriction on abortion, however, bans like this would have a disproportionate negative impact on younger women, low-income women, and women of color – people who already face nearly insurmountable structural barriers to accessing safe, high-quality healthcare.