This blog is summarized from Sarah Lipton-Lubet, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
The abortion debate is often centered around abject ideas. Values held deeply by both sides; arguments based on the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent fly alongside church doctrine and sincerely held religious beliefs.
These arguments rarely take into account that the availability of abortion has real life consequences for women's health. It has real consequences for families, and it has real consequences for the legal standing of women in today's society.
Today the House Judiciary Committee will vote on their ninth anti-abortion and anti-family measure, the so-called "District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." This ban would endanger women's health. Plain and simple; women's lives would be put at risk by this legislation. The ban forces a woman to wait until her condition is terminal, that means will kill her if left untreated, before an abortion after 20 weeks is legal. In the meantime, she could suffer all sorts of less-than-fatal complications like blindness, kidney failure or permanent infertility, and even worse, delaying treatment could even be fatal. This particular ban could even prevent a doctor from acting in times of emergency and ignores that fact that fatal fetal conditions can and do develop in mid or late pregnancy.
Real women and real families are affected by laws like these across the country. In May, the House Judiciary Subcommittee heard from Christy Zink, a D.C. resident who learned mid-way through her pregnancy that if she carried to term, she would, tragically, give birth to a baby missing half his brain.
"I am horrified to think," she testified, "that the doctors who compassionately but objectively explained to us the prognosis and our options for medical treatment, and the doctor who helped us terminate the pregnancy, would be prosecuted as criminals under this law for providing basic medical care and expertise."
If this 20-week ban had been in place at that time, Christy could have found herself in the same position as Danielle Deaver, whose water broke months early, at 22 weeks. She sped to the hospital, only to be told that her fetus had no chance of survival - her lungs would never develop; she would never be able to breathe. Danielle and her husband made the best decision for their family - to end the pregnancy and their suffering. But Nebraska, where the Deavers live, had already enacted a similar abortion ban, and therefore her doctors were prevented from giving her the care she needed. She was forced to wait for 10 days until her body finally expelled the pregnancy.
As Danielle put it: "There are no words for how awful the 10 days were from the moment my water broke to the day my daughter died. There are no words for the heartbreak that cut deeper every time she moved inside of me for those 10 days."
A woman shouldn't be denied basic health care or the ability to make the best decision for her family just because some disagree with her decision. This ban shamefully plays politics with women's well-being; it has no place in our laws.