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20 Week Ban

Congress may soon be considering a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks — in every state — with extremely limited exceptions. Once again, politicians are inserting themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left up to a woman, her faith, her family, and her doctor.  Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they do happen, it’s often in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances.

The majority of voters — Democrats (78%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (71%) — say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.

Here is what you need to know about the real-life consequences of these 20-week bans:

  • Marginalizes Women with Limited Exceptions for Rape, Incest, and Health of the Woman: 
    When Rep. Trent Franks introduced the 20-week ban in the House of Representatives in 2013, he received widespread backlash for his comments that, “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low," — which is both untrue and callous. The House majority’s response was to include an extremely limited exception for access to abortion at 20 weeks in the case of rape or incest — but only if they can provide proof that they have alerted the police about the crime. These additional reporting requirements are not for the health and safety of the woman, but an attempt to judge and shame women who have been victims of violent crimes (only 35 percent of women report sexual assault). A new bill could contain the same narrow exception.
  • Unconstitutional: 
    Any 20-week ban would be unconstitutional and a clear attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade at the expense of the health of our nation’s womenIn fact, proponents of these laws are outspoken about their goal to challenge the case, despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly support the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortionThere’s a reason why the majority of voters — Democrats (78 percent), Republicans (62 percent), and Independents (71 percent) — say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.
  • Criminalizes Doctors
    Politicians are not doctors, and they shouldn’t have the right to take options away from doctors in dangerous medical situations, or force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term with no chance of survival. Worse, 20-week bans could criminalize doctors  with imprisonment, fines, or both.  Doctors oppose these laws because they prevent them from giving their patients the best health care possible in an individual situation. Medical organizations like the Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have condemned 20-week ban proposals.   

The Real-Life Consequences:

While a majority of abortions in the U.S. occur in the first trimester, it is important that a woman, her family, and her doctor have every medical option available. Laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy would take that deeply personal decision away.

61% of all voters say abortions should be legal after 20 weeks

Unfortunately, we’ve already seen 20-week bans in some states. For those that that have passed laws like this, some women and their families have been put into unimaginable situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons but unable to do so. Politics has no place preventing doctors and other health professionals from informing patients about all their health care options, and doctors should not be criminalized for providing constitutionally protected care.

Here are three women’s stories about the decisions they and their partners were faced with because of complicated pregnancies:

Julie Shares Her Family's Story:

"This has nothing to do with politics. This has to do with the choices my husband and I needed to make."

Evelyn Shares Her Family's Story:

"It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make. Whether or not to have an abortion is a decision that should always be made between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her god. You never think the worst is going to happen."

Christie Shares Her Family's Story:


There’s a reason that when voters are reminded that abortions are very rare at this stage, 61 percent of all voters say abortions should be legal after 20 weeks if a woman's doctor determines that the fetus is not yet viable and the woman and her family determine that her health and personal circumstances are such that she should not continue her pregnancy. Once Americans understand the circumstances in which abortion would be made illegal under most 20-week abortion ban proposals — like the ones approved by the House of Representatives this year and the ones passed by some state legislatures this year — they oppose the bans overwhelmingly.

Out-of-touch lawmakers want to force their own extreme agendas on women across the country — without any regard for the woman’s constitutional rights, her health, her family, or her unique and personal circumstances — and we can’t let them.  Take action and tell your senator to vote against this unconstitutional ban!


Clinic Defenders

You can help ensure access to safe and legal abortion.


Tell your senators to oppose 20-week bans, a dangerous attack on women’s health and rights.

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