The White House did not mince words in its opposition to House Republicans’ late-term abortion ban legislation. On Wednesday, House Republicans pushed through a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks while refusing to pass funding for our nation’s infrastructure in the wake of a tragic accident.
Though similar legislation failed earlier this year because of language that would have forced women to report their rape to the police before they could have an abortion, Republicans are tenacious in their attempts to limit women’s access to health services as much as possible. This language was removed and replaced with a requirement that rape victims seek counseling or medical care within 48 hours of their abortion procedure — effectively ensuring that women would still need to jump through hoops to have a medical procedure. The bill would still require abortion providers to alert the authorities “for the girl’s protection.”
“No matter how it is shouted down, or what distortions, deceptive what-ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the subject or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill and its supporters,” said Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), who introduced the measure, “this bill is a deeply sincere effort, beginning at their sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies from the atrocity of late-term abortion on demand.”
But some are calling the bill what it is. Democratic Representatives Diana DeGette and Louise Slaughter point out that this bill is just another attempt by the GOP to insert themselves into the uteri of every woman and girl in America, and to create even more barriers to medical care for women.
“Every woman has a constitutional right to make health care choices in the manner she sees fit, and everyone in America should see this cynical attempt to seize control from women for what it is,” DeGette and Slaughter said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Obama administration spoke out against the legislation, as well. “It’s disgraceful that House Republicans would be considering a party-line vote on legislation that would put additional burdens on survivors of rape and sexual assault,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters just hours before the vote.
Ernst says that the White House veto threat from the previous incarnation of the bill stands, despite “some rather cursory changes.”
“The bill continues to add a harsh burden to survivors of sexual assault, rape and incest who are already enduring unimaginable hardship,” he said, calling the bill “entirely inconsistent” with the GOP’s purported desire to keep the government out of the doctor’s office.
“This piece of legislation, ironically enough, would insert the government right between a woman and her doctor,” he said.
While it is likely that Democrats in the Senate will block the bill, it is frightening that the GOP is using its majority in a manner that is not for the betterment of the country, but one that simply attacks entire segments of the population.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.