What a 20-Week Abortion Ban Would Mean

What a 20-Week Abortion Ban Would Mean

Mitch McConnell isn’t willing to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood—but only because it would be political suicide, not because he’s suddenly become pro-choice. In an op-ed for Cincinnati.com, the Senate Majority Leader championed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a national 20-week abortion ban that the Senate will take up on Tuesday. “Despite the strong passion on both sides of the issue,” wrote McConnell, “it seems obvious to me that if an unborn child has reached the point where he or she can feel pain, that child's life deserves protection.” According to the American Medical Association, it’s unlikely that fetuses feel pain before the third trimester.

Like most bills aiming to restrict abortion rights, the national 20-week abortion ban would most likely affect women with few resources. The Guttmacher Insitute conducted a survey of women who had obtained abortions at or after 20 weeks and the results were distressing. The women faced difficulties finding a provider and the money. The majority of the women were facing challenges like raising children independently, depression, drug use, and domestic violence.

Not only does the bill place an undue burden on women attempting to exercise their constitutional rights, the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act allows for little exceptions and further victimizes women and children who have been sexually assaulted. The bill does exempt women whose lives are “endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury” but says nothing about psychological or emotional issues.

Adult rape victims are also allowed to terminate their pregnancies—but only after they’ve received counseling and medical treatment. For children who are victims of rape or incest, they must also report the abuse to law enforcement before the abortion. If a victim of sexual abuse does not report the crime, which 68 percent of victims don’t do, she will not be able to obtain an abortion.

This bill, passed by the House in May, joins the growing list of anti-choice legislation proposed around the United States. In January, the president indicated that he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk. But the vote signals just how willing Republican lawmakers are to disregard science and the Constitution in the name of restricting women’s rights.