Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens & Brooklyn) released the following statement today on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that enshrined in law a woman's right to choose.
"Women spoke loud and clear in the last election -- keep your laws out of our bedrooms and our doctors' offices," said Maloney. "It's disappointing that 40 years after the highest court in our land handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, we are still fighting to preserve a woman's right to choose and make sure abortion remains safe and legal. As an outspoken supporter of women's reproductive rights, I am continually shocked by Republican efforts to roll back abortion rights, limit women's access to the full range of contraceptive options, and even restrict women's access to basic health care needs.
"In the last Congress, House Republicans voted ten times to limit access to abortion services or limit fundamental abortion rights. Throughout the election season we saw the misguided, nonmedical approach Republican candidates used to speak about abortion, contraceptive services, and the female anatomy. Women should not be treated as second-class citiizens, and our voices must be heard by those leading the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. How many times must we continue to ask, "where are the women?' when it comes to politicians seeking to control women's health care access?
"I am pleased that in New York State, Governor Cuomo is embracing a pro-choice approach by using his State of the State to call for New York legislators to pass a Reproductive Health Act to ensure that New York women have the right to make the personal family planning decisions that are best for them and their families."
Support for Roe v. Wade remains strong. According to a Pew Research Center poll released on January 16, 2012, only 29 percent of Americans want to see the decision completely overturned, a percentage that has changed little in the last 20 years.
Despite the strong support, Republicans have been pushing legislation to roll back the protections of Roe and make it harder to obtain an abortion. According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, in 2012 there were 43 laws that passed in 19 states that would restrict access to abortion. This is the second-highest number of such measures passed in a single year (behind only 2011 when 92 restrictions were enacted).
The following list details ten votes taken by the U.S. House of Representatives (compiled by the Energy and Commerce Committee Minority Staff) to restrict or roll back abortion rights or access to legal abortion. In addition, House Republicans repeatedly voted to curtail family planning funding, to defund Planned Parenthood, and even to allow hospitals to deny women lifesaving emergency medical care.
House Anti-Choice Votes in 112th Congress
February 19, 2011: Final passage of H.R. 1, a bill that included complete defunding of Title X family planning and barred federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Final vote: 235 -- 189. On March 9, the bill failed in the Senate 44 -- 56.
April 14, 2011: The House considered the Black-Roby resolution, H. Con. Res. 36, to completely defund Planned Parenthood. This bill represented the Republicans' effort to hold up appropriations for the federal government, nearly causing a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood. The bill passed the House, 241-185. The bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 42-58 the same day.
May 4, 2011: The House voted on H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer-Funding for Abortion Act." This extreme anti-choice legislation would have effectively raised taxes on women and families that purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion. In addition, the House voted down an amendment that would have ensured the privacy of the medical records of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. Final vote: 251-175.
May 25, 2011: Republicans offered an amendment to H.R. 1216, a bill which would repeal mandatory graduate medical education under the Affordable Care Act. This amendment stated that no federal funding could go toward training for abortions. This was an unprecedented intrusion on medical curricula. Amendment vote: 234 -- 182. Final vote: 234-182.
June 16, 2011: During the floor debate on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012, Republicans successfully offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486. This amendment would have a dangerous impact on the adverse event monitoring the Food and Drug Administration does over RU-486. Amendment vote: 240 -- 176. Final vote: 240-176.
October 13, 2011: The House considered H.R. 358, the so-called "Protect Life Act." Under this bill, which critics dubbed the Let Women Die Act, women would no longer have the right to spend their own money on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act to buy insurance covering full reproductive care. It would even allow hospitals to deny life-saving care to women. The House Majority voted down the motion to recommit the bill to relevant Committee that would have preserved requirements that hospitals provide emergency abortions to women whose lives are in danger. Final vote: 251-172.
May 31, 2012: H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) would outlaw abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks, with no exception to protect a woman's health. Final vote: 246 -- 168 (Did not receive the required 2/3 majority.)
July 31, 2012: H.R. H.R. 3803, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would require doctors to determine a women's motivation for terminating a pregnancy by making it a crime to perform an abortion where the suspected motivation is sex-selection. Final vote: 220 - 154 (Did not receive the required 2/3 majority.)