The 20-Week Abortion Ban Endangers Women's Health For No Reason

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Why does Congress want to diminish a woman's control over her body? The results of a ban on abortions after 20 weeks are cruel and inhumane.

Anti-abortion activists rally next to Planned Parenthood supporters

For decades, social conservatives and religious fanatics alike have pushed strongly to deny women access to safe and legal abortions.

The tenacity they’ve used to fight the pro-choice movement is evident in the large groups of protesters outside of abortion clinics, and in the emphatic speeches given by GOP lawmakers in Congress.

The focus of the anti-abortion argument always seems to be centered on the fetus and its chance at life, its innocence, and its pain. But pro-lifers tend to overlook one important factor — the mother.

The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in instances where the life of the mother is at risk and in cases involving rape or incest.

Not only is this bill highly unusual, since Planned Parenthood states nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, it poses a serious risk to women’s health.

A CDC study shows that in 2013 only 1.3 percent of abortions took place after 21 weeks. When those late abortions occur, it is often for very complex reasons, according to Planned Parenthood.

Alicia Hupprich and her husband couldn’t wait to welcome their new daughter into the world. At 18 weeks and three days, the couple went in for a standard anatomy scan ultrasound to make sure the baby had all of her fingers and toes.

What they found out instead was that their daughter had a thick white lining on the right ventricle of her heart. When a pediatric cardiologist explained the condition to them further, “he was shaking like a leaf.”

For weeks the couple sought other opinions from several different medical professionals, as their daughter’s condition quickly worsened.

“If there was a chance of a positive outcome, if there was some specialist somewhere who could solve our daughter’s heart issues, I wanted to find them and see them,” Hupprich said.

Unfortunately, Hupprich learned that if she was to carry the baby full-term and her daughter managed to survive, she would immediately be placed into perinatal hospice care, where she would most likely suffer heart attacks, seizures, and strokes.

The couple decided they wouldn’t subject a newborn to a short, painful life of suffering, but termination presented even more problems.

As the wife of a member of the Coast Guard, Hupprich was covered under military insurance and therefore didn’t have coverage for her late-term abortion — there’s a statute in Roe v. Wade that states federal funding can’t support abortions.

Luckily for Hupprich, she knew someone who had started an abortion fund to help cover the costs. At a hospital, the cost would nearly be $20,000. She and her husband drove to one of three possible abortion clinics in New Jersey, and when they arrived, Hupprich was a major target from waiting protestors.

The process was difficult and heartbreaking, but it was necessary. If the Senate passed the 20-week ban on abortions, they’d be denying women like Hupprich the opportunity to make similar medical decisions.

Additionally, it would criminalize the medical professionals who want to help women in those difficult situations, and likely lead women to find other, less-safe options.

Women shouldn’t have to justify the personal decisions they make after 20 weeks of pregnancy, especially when they relate to the quality of life for their children.

This bill is an attempt by Congress to completely defund Planned Parenthood and to begin an assault on all abortions.

The unconstitutional bill erodes the rights established in Roe v. Wade and is strongly opposed by doctors and voters alike. According to Planned Parenthood, a majority of voters think anti-abortion bills are the “wrong issue for Congress and state legislators to be spending time on.”

Legal abortions save lives. In 1965, illegal abortions made up 17 percent of all pregnancy and childbirth related deaths. Now, legal abortions have a safety record of over 99 percent.

“Everything about a later termination is already so incredibly difficult — even just picking up the phone to make the appointment. The 20-week ban adds another hurdle. It’s just cruel,” April S. from New Jersey reportedly said.

This legislation endangers women and children, and it is a gross attempt by legislators to diminish a woman’s control over her body.

“We would be jeopardizing women’s health by restricting this and targeting families who are experiencing the worst crisis they’ll likely ever face,” Hupprich said. “... It’s a complicated decision — and we shouldn’t shame families for having to make that decision.” 

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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