May 3, 2017

Tennessee passes 20 week abortion ban

USA Today - Tennessee lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would create one of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

After lengthy debate, the House voted along party lines on the Senate version of the bill, which passed that body Monday, and the proposal heads to Gov. Bill Haslam. The sponsor, GOP Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, Tenn., said the bill is similar to laws in 20 other states that prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and argued that none of them have faced successful court challenges.

No Republicans voted against the bill, but several, including House Speaker Beth Harwell, did not vote. Democrats were vocal in their opposition.

The bill also requires a test for viability and gestational age before a doctor could perform an abortion and subjects doctors who violate the law to a felony charge that could carry up to 15 years in prison.

Planned Parenthood - Congress is considering a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks — nationwide. What’s more, state legislatures are pushing their own 20-week bans. Once again, politicians are inserting themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left between a woman and her doctor.

Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.

Abortions later in pregnancy may involve rare, severe fetal anomalies and serious risks to the woman’s health. Democrats (78%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (71%) — say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.

The introduction of these bans doesn’t come in isolation. They’re part of a dangerous, out-of-touch, and coordinated effort to chip away at abortion access. Anti-abortion politicians in Congress and state legislatures are pushing their agenda, bit by bit, to ultimately outlaw abortion completely.

20-week bans are unconstitutional and a clear attempt to erode Roe v. Wade at the expense of women’s health. In fact, 20-week ban proponents are outspoken about their goal to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.

Politicians shouldn’t have the right to take options away from doctors in dangerous medical situations or prevent them from informing patients about all their health care options — and politicians certainly shouldn’t be allowed to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term with no chance of survival.

Because these laws prevent doctors from giving their patients the best health care possible, leading medical organizations (like the Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) condemn them. But 20-week bans could still criminalize doctors with imprisonment, fines, or both for providing constitutionally protected care.

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