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ACLU on Abortion

American Civil Liberties Union

 


Fetal rights don't override a woman's privacy right

HB 227: Requires every physician who attempts to terminate a pregnancy to exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of a human infant who has been born alive [compared with] any other child born alive at the same gestational age.

ACLU rationale to vote NO: No state interest described by fetal rights advocates has enough force to override a woman's fundamental rights of privacy, bodily integrity, and self-determination, until the child is brought forth from the woman's body. [Advocates] have tried to build support for the notion that the fetus has legal rights independent of the woman carrying it in her womb. Although this concept is sometimes put forward in very sympathetic contexts, it is laced with risks for women's rights.

Legislative Outcome:12/28/19 referred to House Committee for Courts of Justice; died in committee 02/11/20

Source: ACLU on Virginia legislative voting record HB 227 , Feb 11, 2020

Oppose abortion restrictions based on sex, race, disability

Prohibit an abortion if the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion, in whole or in part, because of an unborn child's sex, race, color, national origin, or disability.

Analysis by ACLU / Associated Press: In asking a judge to block the new Kentucky law, the ACLU argued that it removes a woman's right to an abortion if the state "disapproves of her reason" for the procedure. The suit was filed on behalf of EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, the only abortion clinic in Kentucky. The ACLU's challenge is part of a broader lawsuit also challenging another new Kentucky law that would mostly ban abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected--as early as six weeks into pregnancy. ACLU attorneys said the heartbeat bill would prohibit 90% of abortions in Kentucky.

Legislative Outcome: Passed House 67-25-8 on Feb/26/19; Passed Senate 32-4-1 on Mar/13/19; Signed by Governor Matt Bevin on Mar/19/19.

Source: A.P. on ACLU analysis of Kentucky voting records HB5 , Mar 19, 2019

Fight ban on abortion when heartbeat is heard, at 6 weeks

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, surrounded by toddler-toting supporters.

As Reynolds inked the bill, backers' cheers nearly drowned out the echoing chorus of "My body, my choice" shouted by protesters just outside the door.

"I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred," Reynolds said from her formal office before signing a bill that will outlaw nearly all abortions in the state. "And as governor, I have pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. And that's what I'm doing today."

Senate File 359 will take effect July 1, though Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa said they plan to quickly challenge the law. Under the legislation, physicians will be barred from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Experts said that heartbeat can be heard about six weeks into a pregnancy--often before a woman realizes she's pregnant.

Source: Des Moines Register on Iowa voting record SF 359 , May 4, 2018

Apply health equity: barriers affect low-income minorities

Legislative Summary: HB3391: Reproductive Health Equity Act: Requires health benefit plan coverage of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products & procedures related to reproductive health. Allows exemption for plans sold to religious employers. [Enacted Aug/15/17].

ACLU analysis: Restrictions on reproductive health care can have profoundly harmful effects on our health and well-being, particularly for those who already face significant barriers to accessing high-quality care, such as low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, young women, survivors of domestic violence, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The Reproductive Health Equity Act ensures that Oregonians, regardless of income, citizenship status, gender identity or type of insurance, have access to the full range of preventive reproductive health services, including family planning, abortion, and postpartum care.

Source: ACLU analysis of Oregon H 3700 voting records , Aug 15, 2017

Let doctors tell truth: drug-induced abortion not reversible

Legislative Summary: SB1318: Prohibits any health care exchange operating in Arizona from providing coverage for abortions, except in cases of rape & incest. Requires a physician to inform the woman of the possible reversal of a medication abortion.

Analysis by The Guardian (6/4/15):Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, [and others] are challenging SB1318, which requires doctors to tell women having a drug-induced abortion that the procedure is reversible, advice regarded by most medical experts as wrong and misleading. The lawsuit argues that compelling doctors to provide this information against their best medical judgement, with "extreme consequences" for non-compliance, is a violation of their first amendment rights.

Legislative Outcome:Passed House 33-24-3 on Mar/23/15; Passed Senate 18-11-1 on Mar/25/15; Signed by Gov. Ducey on Mar/30/15. A federal district court found in favor of the ACLU and overturned SB1316 on July 23, 2016.

Source: The Guardian/ACLU analysis of Arizona voting record SB1318 , Jul 23, 2016

Funding abortion avoids discrimination against poor women

We urge Members of the House of Representatives to vote against H.R. 7, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015." The legislation is broad and deeply troubling and the ACLU opposes it [because] H.R. 7 would make discriminatory restrictions that harm women's health permanent law.

The bill singles out and excludes abortion from a host of programs that fulfill the government's obligation to provide health care to certain populations. Women who rely on the government for their health care do not have access to a health care service readily available to women of means and women with private insurance.

The government should not discriminate in this way. It should not use its power of the purse to intrude on a woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy and selectively withhold benefits because she seeks to exercise her right of reproductive choice in a manner the government disfavors.

Source: ACLU 2015-16 voting recommendation on HR7 , Jan 22, 2015

Ultimately, a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy

A few years ago, I was consulted by a woman who was 33 weeks pregnant with a baby who had been diagnosed to have hydrocephalus. In the end, she decided to complete the pregnancy.

I was discussing this case with the head of the ACLU, who had made a statement that the purpose of their organization was to speak for and defend those who could not speak for and defend themselves. I asked whether or not this 33-week-old fetus qualified as a human being incapable of speaking for or defending itself. He artfully dodged answering the question. I told him that there were many premature infants in our neonatal intensive care unit; I asked him if he would speak for and defend the rights of a 28-week-old baby who was in an incubator and on life support. He replied that that was a no-brainer; of course the ACLU would defend such an individual. He realized his answers were not logical, he said, but he felt that ultimately a woman had the right to terminate a pregnancy until the second that child is born.

Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p. 99-100 , Jan 24, 2012

Oppose new fees & inspections for abortion clinics

HB171: This bill amends provisions of the Health Care Facility Licensing and Inspection Act in relation to abortion clinics.

ACLU-Utah case to vote NO: H.B. 171 unfairly subjects Utah's three existing women's health clinics which offer abortions to twice a year inspections and higher government fees. Placing unnecessary regulations on physicians and the clinics in which they practice is bad public policy that stifles the doctor-patient relationship.

Legislative Outcome: Passed House 47-25-3 on Mar/7/11; Passed Senate 22-6-1 on Mar/9/11; State Sen. Ben McAdams voted NO; Signed by Governor Gary Herbert on Mar/22/11

Source: ACLU-Utah on Utah legislative voting records HB171 , Mar 26, 2011

Title X is effective but needs much more funding

Almost 17 million women need publicly supported contraceptive care. Many of these women rely on Title X to provide high-quality family planning services and other preventive health care they could otherwise not afford and would not get. Title X is a vital part of our nation's public health infrastructure, serving over 5 million low-income women and men at 4,500 clinics nationwide. Title X services help women and men to plan the number and timing of their pregnancies, thereby helping to prevent approximately one million unintended pregnancies, nearly half of which would end in abortion.

A government review of Title X family planning services confirms that the program serves a unique and valuable purpose, is cost-effective, and is effectively managed. However, current funding is inadequate. Had Title X funding kept up with inflation it would now be funded at nearly $700 million. We ask that Title X be funded at $375 million, which is $92 million above its current funding level.

Source: ACLU voting recommendation on Planned Parenthood , Jan 1, 2007

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Page last updated: May 01, 2021