20 Week Abortion Bans: Unnecessary and Arbitrary
January 22, 2018 marked the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Supreme Court ruling Roe w. Wade. There’s no question that the landmark ruling is under attack; 401 abortion restrictions have passed since January of 2011.
We sit down with Dr. Jamila Perritt, an OB-GYN and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, to discuss the restrictive legislation that is gaining popularity with anti-choice legislators and has already passed the House: the 20-week abortion ban.
A 20–week abortion ban is an unnecessary, arbitrary ban on one of the safest medical procedures for women. The ban is based on gestational age and limits women’s abilities to access comprehensive abortion care.
20-week abortion bans, Heartbeat bans, and other TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are presented to sound innocuous. Anti-choice politicians and advocates often support 20-week abortion bans by stating that such limitations improve the health and safety of women receiving the procedure, even though abortion is one of the safest procedures a woman can have. Fetal pain is also cited, but scientific evidence proves that the concept of fetal pain is untrue.
These arguments add layers of shame and stigmatization on top of the individual that has made the thoughtful decision to undergo the procedure, and many women have various personal, medical, economic, social, and geographical reasons that may contribute to their ability or inability to receive abortion care.
Individuals seek abortion at 20 weeks for a multitude of reasons. Medical causes may delay a woman’s learning of her pregnancy, while TRAP laws and personal circumstances (e.g., saving money, procuring travel to a provider, finding child care, etc.) can reduce accessibility to abortion care. TRAP laws often attack abortion providers as well, limiting their training, undermining their admitting privileges, and closing their clinics, which ultimately eliminates the ability to provide comprehensive reproductive health care.
Attacking abortion access won’t make abortion disappear, but it will make the procedure unsafe, put women’s lives at risk, and cause extreme health disparities.