The Senate’s expected February 25 vote on the so-called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” is yet another attempt to cut off access to abortion and insert politics between patients and their health care providers. As People For the American Way and allied organizations make clear in our S. 311 opposition letter, senators must prioritize protecting and expanding access to comprehensive health care. We don’t need more anti-choice attacks that disproportionately harm women, low-income people, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and other systemically-oppressed communities. You can download our letter here.
We, the undersigned reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations, write in strong opposition to S. 311, which interferes with evidence-based patient care and medical practice. This legislation is yet another attempt to curtail access to safe, legal abortion care and improperly insert politics into the relationship between patients and their health care providers.
The upcoming Senate vote is the latest in a series of anti-choice political stunts that are clearly intended to capitalize on the false and inflammatory rhetoric surrounding abortion later in pregnancy. President Trump recently used his State of the Union address and a political rally to spread misinformation, shame women who need abortion care later in pregnancy, and attack healthcare providers committed to providing their patients with quality, evidence-based health care when they are making the most difficult decisions. Politicians engaging in these stunts want to undermine the legislative progress at the state level to protect women’s health. While anti-choice politicians are doggedly pursuing any and all restrictions on reproductive health care and seeking to force people back into the dark ages, the undersigned organizations reject their efforts and stand firmly in support of the constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion care. We urge all senators to oppose this legislation.
Simply put, S. 311 is a solution in search of a problem. Abortion practice is safe and legal; any evidence of wrongdoing can and should be handled under existing law. Instead, this bill dictates that providers must take actions that are contrary to a physician’s medical training and clinical judgement or a parent’s wishes. It also threatens providers with criminal and civil penalties for non-compliance. This goes well beyond the 2002 law, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which the reproductive rights community did not and does not oppose. Likewise, many legislators supported the 2002 bill because it was a definitional change that was not intended to change anything about the medical practice of labor, delivery or abortion. It is clear that this bill’s true goals are to mislead and deceive the public with outrageous accusations, to interfere with medical care, and to intimidate doctors out of practice with threats of criminal penalties. Consequently, medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this legislation.
Not even two months in to the 116th Congress, this will be the second Senate vote to restrict abortion access, following a failed attempt to restrict insurance coverage of abortion last month. Senate leadership should prioritize protecting and expanding access to comprehensive health care, instead of continuing these anti-choice attacks that disproportionately harm women, low-income individuals, communities of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized people.
In recent years, we have witnessed an unprecedented onslaught of attacks on reproductive health. These attacks clearly demonstrate the way extremists have usurped the political system to advance views opposed by most Americans. Seven in 10 Americans consistently say they believe that abortion care should be legal. They believe that individuals should make the decisions about if, when, how, and with whom they become parents—not politicians. Bills that restrict access to comprehensive reproductive health care are part of an extreme agenda that is out of step with the priorities of American women and families.
Abortion has been and will always be a part of women’s lives. And a woman’s health, not politics, should inform important medical decisions. This deeply personal decision should always be made by the person seeking an abortion in consultation with her health care provider, family, and other individuals she trusts, not politicians. Politicians are not medical experts and have no place in the exam room interfering with the provision of compassionate, evidence-based care.
We call on senators to work toward advancing policies that actually help women and families rather than restricting access to the health care they need and deserve. Women—not politicians—are best qualified to make decisions about their own health.