For decades Republicans have been trying to whittle down government to a size where it can fit inside a uterus, and the new GOP-controlled Congress is no exception. Since the 114th Congress met in January, Republican lawmakers have already introduced 13 anti-abortion bills with lofty-sounding titles that belie their anti-woman agenda.
1) H.R. 36: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: (Sponsor): Trent Franks — Ariz.
This bill would have banned abortion at the 20th week of pregnancy because it alleges fetuses can feel pain starting at that time. Would have because it was axed by the Republican leadership. (More on that in a moment.)
The science behind the claim that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks isn’t settled, and it’s far more complex than a simple cutoff date. Furthermore, only 1.2% of abortions occur after the 20th week of pregnancy.
What killed this bill was the exemption for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, but the exemption would only be granted to women able to provide a police report documenting the crime. That caused something of a backlash among female Republicans.
2) S. 48: Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act: David Vitter — La.
There’s a Seinfeldepisode where Jerry tries tells a men’s store clerk that he’s returning a coat simply to “spite” the salesman who sold to him, only to be told that he can’t return it for that reason. Then when he tries to change the reason, the manager says, “Well, you already said spite,” and Jerry doesn’t get his refund.
That’s this bill, which would make it a crime for a doctor to knowingly perform an abortion a woman wants based on the sex or gender of the fetus. But if she gives another reason for wanting an abortion, then that’s totally fine. If this bill becomes law, woe unto those brutally honest prenatal gender-discriminating women.
This bill — introduced in both the House and Senate — might be the most ironic on this roster. Title X is a federal program that provides grants to organizations that assist (often low income) income individuals with family planning and preventive health care services. The most famous recipient of grants under Title X is Planned Parenthood, whose family planning services have succeeded in reducing the number of abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “In 2010, publicly funded contraceptive services helped women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies.”
But some Planned Parenthood clinics and other family planning organizations also provide abortion services, and Republicans can’t have that. Even if those abortions comprise just 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, and even if Planned Parenthood actually reduces the number of abortions by providing women with education about and access to family planning services.
5) S. 78 Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act: David Vitter — La.
Given his affinity for hookers, you’d think David Vitter would lie low in the whole abortion debate. But no, Vitter submitted this and the previous two bills on the same day. Naturally, despite the concerned tone of the title has nothing to do with the health of women and everything to do with making it harder for them to get abortions. This bill would require doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges at area hospitals. As The Washington Post noted, it can be incredibly difficult for doctors working at abortion clinics to get obtain these privileges because many simply can’t commit the time necessary to maintain them, and also because some hospitals object to granting admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions.
6) H.R. 281: Every Child is a Blessing Act: Steve Palazzo — Miss.
This isn’t really an anti-abortion bill, but it nonetheless pertains to prenatal medical care and, possibly, abortion. Plus, with a title like that, it just had to be included, even though anyone who’s been to a mall knows this claim is just false.
Palazzo’s bill would ban medical malpractice lawsuits centered on wrongful birth claims, which typically happen when a doctor fails to diagnose a major medical problem with a fetus, or fails to warn the patient of the risks involved with said problem. By granting doctors this type of immunity, it’s conceivable that those who are anti-abortion would be able to lie without legal consequences to a woman about the health of a fetus with a serious medical issue if he or she thinks it will decrease the likelihood of the woman seeking an abortion.
Do the Republicans have this one covered or what? Text for Rubio’s and Ros-Lehtinen’s bills haven’t been published yet, but they’re likely quite similar to Portman’s, which would make it illegal to transport a minor to another state to get an abortion in order to circumvent parental consent laws in another state. For those of you wondering about the possible constitutional justification for Congress to regulate this kind of activity, look no further than the 1910 Mann Act, which proponents of this measure have cited previously. That law made it illegal to transport women across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”
10) H.R. 7: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act: Christopher Smith — N.J.
This bill already coasted through the House last month, and it would permanently block the funding of abortions with federal tax dollars. Republicans have long justified restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortions on the grounds that many Americans morally oppose abortion, and therefore their money shouldn’t have to go to them. Apparently it doesn’t matter that abortion is perfectly legal. Maybe the good news is that this might give Americans a leg to stand on if they ever try to argue they have a moral objection to their money going to fund wars of choice.
11) H.R. 463: PRO-LIFE Act: Randy Neugebauer — Texas
Perhaps most famous for his “baby killer” remark during a floor debate of the Affordable Care Act, Randy Neugebauer’s bill would “prohibit Federal education funding for elementary schools and secondary schools that provide on-campus access to abortion providers.” Neugebauer almost makes it sound as though Planned Parenthood is going around to schools providing abortions on site. Really, they’re just helping schools shape age-appropriate sex education curricula. Even if those curricula address abortion, guess what: For the umpteenth time, it’s legal.
12) H.R. 610: To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to audit States to determine if such States used Medicaid funds in violation of the Hyde Amendment and other Federal prohibitions on funding for abortions, and for other purposes: Sean Duffy — Wisc.
The description of this so far title-less bill says it all: Sean Duffy needs some different material.
13) H.R.492: Ultrasound Informed Consent Act: Jeff Duncan — S.C.
This steaming pile of legislative crap would force all women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, and would force the doctor who is to perform the abortion describe the images on the ultrasound, and to show the images to the woman. But the “good” news is, she can look away.
Thankfully, even if any of these bills do pass both houses of Congress, there is virtually no way President Obama signs them. But if a Republican is elected president in 2016 and Congress is still controlled by the GOP, all bets are off.