Congresswoman Chellie Pingree had harsh words today for a Republican bill that would create a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks. The bill is up for a vote in the U.S. House today and Pingree says she will oppose it.
"The bill is an attempt to insert Congress into a complex and difficult decision that should be between a woman and her doctor," Pingree said. "And it would put the safety of women at risk because it doesn't even have an exception for woman who learns that a pregnancy will jeopardize her health."
Originally the bill didn't contain an exception for rape or incest either, but Republican leaders have added a very narrow exception after the Republican sponsor of the bill created a firestorm of controversy with comments about rape and pregnancy. Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona said last week that rape rarely results in pregnancy, and this week Republican leaders added a provision to the bill that allowed for an exception if a woman could prove she had reported a rape or incest to legal authorities.
"Not only is the rape and incest exception in this bill far too narrow, it is demeaning by making women prove they reported an assault to police. That's a choice that the victim of a sexual assault should be allowed to make on her own," Pingree said. "It's as if Republican leaders don't consider rape legitimate unless the victim has paperwork to prove it."
The ban is widely considered unconstitutional and many observers believe that this bill and other similar proposals are designed to be appealed to the Supreme Court, in an attempt to get the Court to overturn some of the protections contained in the landmark Roe v Wade decision.