MEMO:  New GOP Assault on Women’s Health Care is Akin-Like

To:     Interested Parties
From: Simone Ward, National Women’s Outreach Director, Democratic National Committee
Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Re: New GOP Assault on Women's Health Care is Akin-Like

Yesterday, Republicans from Washington, DC to Madison, WI and Austin, TX began waging a new war on women’s health by acting on additional unnecessary and insulting state and federal legislation that further restricts a woman's ability to make the health care choices that are right for her. This, just weeks after the GOP’s infamous “autopsy” report acknowledged the Republican Party’s problems with women and pledged to change.

Just yesterday, the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that if enacted would ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the mother's health is at risk. Ahead of the vote, Rep. Trent Franks, a leading House conservative and sponsor of the amendment went as far as to say that pregnancies as a result of rape are 'very low,' echoing similar comments made last year by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry made a surprise announcement by adding sweeping anti-abortion bills onto the agenda for a special legislative session, including one piece of legislation that could shut down 80% of Texas's abortion clinics. And in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker pledged to sign legislation into law that would force women to get a medically unnecessary ultrasound when considering an abortion. That's a summary of one day's efforts in today's Republican Party.

Unfortunately for women and their families, the news out of DC, Texas and Wisconsin yesterday didn't happen in isolation – it's a key part of the GOP's legislative agenda which, in the spirit of Mitt Romney and his failed Presidential bid, still includes these and efforts such as defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing Obamacare.

After their 2012 losses, Republicans promised in numerous reports to modify their strategy, tone down their rhetoric and reach out to voters like women that they lost in 2012 as a direct result of their offensive rhetoric and extreme policies.   But when it comes to women’s health, the Grand Old Party is the just the same old extreme party it’s always been.  


North Dakota Enacted The Strictest Ban On Abortions In The Country. “North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has signed legislation that would ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Republican governor also signed into law another measure that would makes North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome.  Abortion-rights advocates say the measures signed Tuesday are an attempt to close the state's sole abortion clinic in Fargo. Supporters of the so-called fetal heartbeat measure say it's a challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. Abortion-rights advocates say the state will have to defend the legislation in a costly legal fight.”  [AP, 3/26/13]

Arkansas Passed A Law Over The Governor’s Veto Banning Abortion After 12 Weeks.  “The Arkansas House of Representatives voted 56-33 on Wednesday to override Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) veto of a ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, ensuring that the most restrictive abortion law in the country will now go into effect.  Under the new law, proposed by state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), doctors who perform abortions on a woman who is more than 12 weeks pregnant will lose their medical licenses unless the woman is a victim of rape or incest, her life is in danger or the fetus has a highly lethal abnormality. Republican supporters of the bill argue that abortion should be banned that early in a pregnancy because the fetal heartbeat can be detected at that point. Several states, including Arkansas, have passed bans on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the medically unsubstantiated theory that fetuses can feel pain at that point. But Arkansas is the first state to pass a 12-week ban.”  [Huffington Post, 3/6/13]

Kansas Enacted A Law Defining Life As Beginning “At Fertilization.”  “Kansas is set to enact one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation which defines life as beginning "at fertilization" and imposes a host of new regulations.  The Kansas House of Representatives passed the bill 90-30 on Friday night, a few hours after the Senate backed it on a 28-10 vote. Strongly anti-abortion Republican Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign it into law. Republicans hold strong majorities in both houses.  In addition to the provision specifying when life begins, the bill prevents employees of abortion clinics from providing sex education in schools, bans tax credits for abortion services and requires clinics to give details to women about fetal development and abortion health risks. It also bans abortions based solely on the gender of the fetus.”  [Reuters, 4/6/13]

Pennsylvania Banned Abortion Coverage In The Obamacare Exchanges.  “Women in Pennsylvania will have the right to choose insurance through the state health exchange, but it won’t extend to abortion.  The state Senate on Wednesday voted 31-19 to approve House Bill 818, which prohibits insurance policies offered through Pennsylvania’s upcoming health-care insurance exchanges from offering abortion coverage. The bill, which already passed in the House, goes to Gov.Corbett.  Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said the governor will sign the bill. In an email, Cronkright said the bill would not ‘place any greater restrictions’ on access-to-care for abortion. Abortions will still be allowed in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at risk.  However, the ban also extends to plans sold by private insurers issued without federal subsidy.”  [Philadelphia Independent, 6/6/13]

The North Carolina House Voted to Exclude Abortion Coverage From The Obamacare Exchanges.  “Abortions will not be covered in North Carolina’s online health insurance exchange, which is coming as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, nor through the plans cities and counties offer their workers, under a bill tentatively approved 67-38 in the House late Wednesday night.  The bill would also allow any health care provider to refuse to participate in abortions; current law protects doctors and nurses.”  [Raleigh News and Observer, 5/15/13]


Scott Walker Said He Would Sign Controversial Ultrasound Bill. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he will sign a measure that's quickly working its way through the Republican-controlled Legislature that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound […] ’I don't have any problem with ultrasound,’ Walker told reporters after a school choice meeting in Milwaukee. ‘I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.’” [Associated Press, 6/11/13]

Rick Perry Added A Ban On Abortions After 20 Weeks To The Agenda For The Special Legislative Session In Texas.  “Gov. Rick Perry set off an immediate firestorm Tuesday by adding sweeping anti-abortion bills to the special session agenda, including one that opponents believe could shut down 80 percent of the state’s abortion clinics.  ‘We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause,’ Perry said.  The governor opened the door for debate on bills to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, mandate that clinics meet the expensive standards of surgical centers and require doctors who perform abortions to maintain surgical privileges at a nearby hospital.”  [Dallas Morning News, 6/11/13]

House Republicans Planned A Vote On A National Ban On Abortions After 20 Weeks.  “The House will vote next week on a bill banning abortions across the country after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Doug Heye, deputy chief of staff to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., confirmed to CQ Roll Call that the chamber is on track to consider legislation next week that would ban all abortions after the 20-week threshold — the point at which some medical professionals believe a fetus can begin to feel pain. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is being marked up by the full House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and has the strong backing of the National Right to Life Committee. Heye also confirmed that the bill would be brought to the floor under a rule, designed to allow for passage via a simple majority. Franks had a previous incarnation of the bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks only in the District of Columbia, and it came up for a vote in 2012 under suspension of the rules, an expedited procedure for allowing bills to come to the floor. But such suspension measures require a two-thirds majority vote for passage, and the bill failed to pass that goal post.”  [Roll Call, 6/10/13]


Reince Priebus Said Supporters Of Planned Parenthood Endorsed Infanticide.  “Planned Parenthood is an organization that receives taxpayer funding, including millions from the federal government. They also enjoy the unwavering support of almost all elected Democrats.  The President, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Democratic Leader, and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (in whose home state this hearing occurred) made funding Planned Parenthood an issue in the 2012 campaign. They should now all be held to account for that outspoken support. If the media won’t, then voters must ask the pressing questions: Do these Democrats also believe a newborn has no rights? Do they also endorse infanticide?”  [Reince Preibus Op-Ed, Red State, 4/3/13]

Trent Franks Said The Rate Of Pregnancies From Rape Is “Very Low.”  “Another Republican congressman ventured into the realm of rape and pregnancy Wednesday, saying at a committee hearing that incidences of pregnancy from rape are ‘very low.’ Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), whose measure banning abortions after 20 weeks was being considered in the House Judiciary Committee, argued against a Democratic amendment to make exceptions for rape and incest by suggesting that pregnancy from rape is rare.  ‘The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,’ Franks said.  Franks continued: ‘But when you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that’s impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.’” [Washington Post, 6/12/13]

Tags: Women