A group of mostly male Republicans in the House have chosen to focus on a dangerous bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks nationwide and put Congress between women and their doctors. On top of that, nearly 700 bills were introduced in state legislatures around the country to restrict access to women’s health, including the unconstitutional attack on low-income women’s equal access to safe and legal abortion (SB 49) here in Alaska.
The impact of restricting abortion after 20 weeks is particularly unpalatable in Alaska, where so many women live in rural, isolated communities with little or no access to health care near their home. Initial appointments, check-ups, follow-ups, and consultations take place later than they would otherwise because of distance and financial restrictions. About 99 percent of all abortions take place before 21 weeks, but when a woman seeks an abortion later in pregnancy, it’s often the result of heartbreaking and unusual circumstances—circumstances where medical professionals and her family should not be limited by politicians who are not in her shoes.
I felt hopeful after the 2012 election that the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” debacle would teach politicians that women prefer to make their own private medical decisions. I am saddened to hear that politicians are still hell-bent on finding new ways to suppress access to safe and legal abortion, and to dictate medical practices to doctors. Americans want doctors and medical experts to make medical decisions and set health regulations, not politicians. Laws like SB 49 here in Alaska, which is an unconstitutional push to cut access to private medical decisions for low-income Alaskan women, and the nationwide 20-week abortion ban, take away medical experts’ power, women’s rights, and place undue hardship on rural low-income women in Alaska.