Another Abortion Ban? You’ve Got to be Kidding Me

Earlier this week, in a case brought by the ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down an extreme Arizona law that bans abortion care starting at 20 weeks. The court called it "per se unconstitutional." That's judicial-speak for "are you kidding me with this?"

And yet today, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on a bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) that would do the very same thing—except this one wouldn't be limited to Franks' home state of Arizona. Initially, Franks targeted the women of D.C., but has since announced his intention to expand his scope nationwide.

Franks' bill takes a private, medical decision away from a woman and her family, and gives it to politicians. We may not all agree on abortion all the time, but we should be able to agree that these decisions have to rest with families, not with Congress.

Every pregnancy is different. For many women and families, it's a joyous time. But none of us can presume to know what complications may arise during a pregnancy, or all the circumstances surrounding a personal, medical decision to continue or to end it. Only a woman and her family know, and that's why only a woman and her family should make these important decisions.

Last year the Subcommittee heard from Christy Zink, who bravely testified again today. She learned mid-way through her pregnancy that, if she carried to term, she would tragically give birth to a baby missing half his brain. "The answers were far from easy to hear," she recalled, "but they were clear. There would be no miracle cure." Christy and her husband considered their situation and made the best decision for their family: to end the pregnancy.

Christy's not alone. Other women find themselves in her situation, or facing illnesses that will leave them to suffer blindness, kidney failure, or permanent infertility if they're denied the abortion care they need.

Franks' bill would send physicians to jail for providing their patients with needed care at a difficult time. It's an attempt to turn politicians into doctors, and expert, compassionate doctors into criminals.

"I am horrified to think," Christy told Congress, "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."

This is just one in the latest round of attacks in the war on women. Throughout the country, politicians are pushing forward extreme laws that would rob women of the services they need to make personal decisions about pregnancy free from political interference. Just look at Arkansas, North Dakota, and Kansas.

Enough is enough. It's time to stop extremist politicians' interference in our most personal and private decisions. Franks' abortion ban isn't just "per se unconstitutional" – it's per se unconscionable.

Learn more about abortion legislation and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Add a comment (8)
Read the Terms of Use

Conservative Li...

I have never understood how murdering children is a liberty.


I certainly appreciate your concern for women's rights and equality.

However, your position on abortion seems troubling to me. We know from the science of embryology that a human life begins at conception. There is literally no scientific dispute about this, just as there is no real dispute about climate change.

The question then is: what value do we ascribe to this human being? Is he or she valuable inherently, or does he or she need to acquire certain properties in order to become valuable? Does it makes sense to exclude human beings out of the moral community by pointing to the characteristics or abilities that make them different? If so, this is deeply troubling with respect to the idea of human equality and human rights for all. (I have personally helped to bring about litigation cases defending the rights of disabled people, short people, ethnic minorities, and women -- all people who have in certain contexts have had their human rights violated because of exclusionary definitions).

Similarly, if the un-born entity to a whole, live, growing human being, is it morally acceptable to kill it?

Are there consequences for sexual actions? What gives the State the right to force men to pay child support if he had sex with a woman but did not consent to having a baby?

Is it fair to state that ending abortion is "an attack on women" if millions of American women also agree with the pro-life position?

Sorry for the series of questions! I appreciate the ACLU's strong defense of important causes that are unpopular, but I would hope you could reconsider this.


Anonymous, you are raising mortal and ethical questions, all of which pregnant women considering either abortion or birth are perfectly capable of addressing as they apply to their own circumstances. The ACLU's position seems to be that women have the civil right to determine whether and when to give birth, and that legislation granting civil rights to embryos and non-viable fetuses unconstitutionally infringes on that right.


Anonymous, since when did the civil right to decide whether and when to give birth become an "unpopular cause" to support?


Anonymous, when did the right to decide whether and when to give birth become an unpopular cause to support?


Listen to this and decide what is really unconscionable:


Listen to (or read) Dr. Anthony Levatino's testimony before Congress on abortion procedures on a pregnancy past 20 weeks. Do a search and you'll find it - I'm unable to post the link here. Listen to what he has to say with an open mind. It just might change the way you feel about this issue.


Aren't these anti-choice laws being passed by some red states blatantly unconstitutional? And, if so, why are they allowed?

Stay Informed