Tag Archives: abortion ban

The Hypocrisy of a 20 Week Ban

by Joanna Blotner
RCRC Public Policy Manager

I am proud of the rich theology of my Jewish faith which has for millennia firmly stood in solidarity with a woman who faces a problem pregnancy, valuing her health, inherent dignity, and physical and mental well being above all else. Like most Americans, I believe that it is critically important for a woman to have access to safe, legal, affordable and compassionate abortion care. I further believe that my faith requires me to work to preserve and expand access to this care, standing in solidarity with all women and families facing difficult emotional and economic circumstances surrounding a pregnancy at any stage.

This is why I am so deeply disturbed by the actions of so many Members of Congress seeking to ban access to abortion care and services after 20 weeks gestation – a time at which no woman makes the decision to end a pregnancy lightly.

Proponents of H.R.1797, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” prioritize the potential life of a fetus over that of a woman, a position almost always in in conflict with centuries of established Jewish law. No woman should be forced to give birth against her will. This is an unconscionable burden to ask of a woman – particularly if she has been informed late in her pregnancy that the fetus she carries is not viable and that continuing the pregnancy will pose a risk to her health, as was the case of a dear friend of mine a few years ago.

It is telling that Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) did not make even a single reference to a woman, her family, or her situation in a press release announcing that he would be expanding the focus of H.R.1797 from the District of Columbia to a nationwide ban. It is also deeply ironic that of the 185 cosponsors of this legislation, only 56 voted to alleviate harm and pain to women and families by helping pass the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year. In 2009, when presented with the opportunity to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program and support children experiencing pain due to illness or injury, of those cosponsors in Congress at the time, 81% chose to DENY protection and care to those children in need. VAWA and CHIP are the types of policies that affirm, value, protect and support healthy families; these are the types of policies rejected by H.R.1797’s supporters. The hypocrisy is glaring – and shameful.

Congressman Franks and his allies supporting this bill, like all Americans, are free to have and share their own religious beliefs about issues related to pregnancy and parenting. Liberty is an American value. However, we must not fool ourselves into thinking this bill seeks to protect women, children or families, as its supporters claim. H.R. 1797 is a clear attempt to impose one extreme and uncompromising religious belief about abortion on the whole nation, without taking into consideration the often complex circumstances in which the decision to end a pregnancy is being made. It is a gross violation of Constitutionally protected liberties and religious freedom.

H.R. 1797 privileges the pain that a fetus might feel over the physical pain and mental anguish a woman has in making the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. That decision, no matter the stage of the pregnancy, should be left to a woman in consultation with her family, her doctor, and her faith – not politicians bent on forcing a narrow religious view on all Americans.


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Frank’s Dangerous, Nationwide 20-Week Abortion Ban Proposal

Rev. Rob Keithan
RCRC Director of Public Policy

I’m currently sitting in a hearing called by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) for his H.R. 1797, the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would expand nationwide his proposed 20-week abortion ban for the District of Columbia. I’m here on behalf of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, but also on behalf of the millions of women and families whose lives would be dramatically impacted by this terrible bill.

Rep. Franks, like many other arch-conservatives and religious extremists, have been using the grisly case of Kermit Gosnell to push for more restrictions to compassionate abortion care. Restricting access to abortion – in some cases, making it so difficult to access as to make it impossible to obtain – actually creates more Gosnell’s, not less. H.R. 1797 is a dangerous intrusion into the most personal of decisions that a woman can make, a decision that politicians towing a narrow, religiously- motivated line should not be making for them.

It is necessary as faith leaders to have the humility to see God’s hand at work in people’s lives, and to make sure that they have the resources they need to effectuate the decisions that are best for them and their families. Banning abortion outright at 20 weeks, with no exceptions, is a crass political move to control the lives of people who are making decisions in complex situations. Such a move chafes at our pastoral responsibilities and at our deep faith in our constitutionally-protected religious liberty.

RCRC wrote the letter below, signed by a broad list of religious organizations, and delivered it to members of the House Judiciary Committee. I hope you’ll strongly consider reaching out to your Member of Congress to oppose this oppressive measure.


May 23, 2013

Dear Representative,

We, the undersigned national religious groups, urge you to oppose H.R.1797, the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), which would create a nationwide ban on access to abortion care 20 weeks after fertilization, with no exceptions in cases of rape, incest or fetal anomalies. It explicitly bans later abortion care for a woman whose mental health would threaten her life or her health. We stand united across our faith traditions in opposing this extreme legislation.   

Proponents of this bill have cited the Kermit Gosnell case as a reason to push this intrusive policy, but the fact is that the lack of access to safe and affordable abortion care is precisely the circumstance that drove women to an unscrupulous person like Gosnell, as it did to so many women before Roe v. Wade.  The existence of his clinic is a ghastly warning sign of what happens when abortion is so restricted and expensive that a woman in need feels that she has nowhere else to turn.

A family with a wanted pregnancy that goes terribly wrong is confronted with awful decisions that none of us ever want to face.  Our religious values call us to offer compassion, support, and respect to a woman and her family facing these difficult circumstances. H.R.1797will only make a challenging situation worse.   When a woman needs an abortion, it is critically important that she have access to safe and legal care.

It is telling that Representative Franks, in a press release announcing that he would be expanding the focus of H.R.1797 from the District of Columbia to a nationwide ban, does not make even a single reference to a woman, her family, or her situation. 

Like all Americans, Rep. Franks is free to have and share his own religious beliefs about issues related to pregnancy and parenting. Liberty is an American value. However, H.R.1797 is a clear attempt to impose one particular religious belief on the whole nation, and thus represents a gross violation of the freedom to which every American is entitled by the Constitution. The proper role of government in the United States is not to impose one set of religious views on everyone, but to protect each person’s right and ability to make decisions according to their own beliefs and values. 

We believe—and Americans, including people of faith, overwhelmingly agree—that the decision to end a pregnancy is best left to a woman in consultation with her family, her doctor, and her faith. Our laws should support and safeguard a woman’s health – not deny access to care. Please show compassion for women and respect for religious liberty by opposing HR 1797.

In faith,  

Anti-Defamation League
Catholics for Choice
Disciples Justice Action Network
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Metropolitan Community Churches
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Council of Jewish Women
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Institute
Union of Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries


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Stand Up for DC Women and DC Rights!

Today, standing in the rain outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on 16th Street NW in the District of Columbia, DC Mayor Vincent Gray pledged to fight back against the Republicans who are colonizing the District of Columbia. Gray got arrested and went to jail yesterday (April 11) to protest the ban on District funding of abortions for poor women – with its own money! – and the trampling of DC’s rights.

Treating poor women as expendable may be the spark that renews the movement for home rule.

The abortion ban rider was the final piece of the budget deal that resulted in the government not being shut down last week.  Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton applauded Gray and other DC colleagues for not letting “our President and our party” off the hook. Reports were that Obama agreed, begrudgingly, to GOP demands to restore the ban on the District funding abortions for poor women – again, with its own funds.

Her greatest outrage was for the GOP, who have “contempt for our city” and “think they can get away with anything.”

And they were fools to try this. There have been 117 elective abortions since August 2010, costing $62,300, and 73 therapeutic abortions since then, costing $125,000, according to DC officials. Scarcely a drop in the ocean of debt.

But it’s not about the numbers. “The numbers don’t seem large – but tell that to people who need this service,” said the mayor.

More foolishness. The ban was unnecessary, Holmes Norton said. Republicans got almost all the cuts they wanted. There wasn’t any reason for President Obama to cave on their  demand to ban abortion funding.

More anti-women legislation is coming. Republicans want a permanent ban on abortion funding in the District – again, DC taxpayer- funded abortion services that do not use a penny of federal money.

“DC is quite ready to fight back,” Holmes Norton promised.

Go to RCRC’s website website to send a message to President Obama.  The rights of DC women are not bargaining chips.

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