There are some truly terrible things happening in our country right now that President Trump and Congress need to address. Common-sense gun reform. Emergency appropriations for Puerto Rico. A clean Dream Act so 800,000 young immigrants won't get kicked out of their homes. Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program so 9 million kids don't lose their health care. The list is long.
But Donald Trump and the Republicans in Washington have decided that the single most important issue facing our country is taking away birth control and the right to a safe and legal abortion.
The Republicans failed at a wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its protections for women -- so now they are taking it apart piece by piece. Just yesterday, the Trump Administration rolled backed the Affordable Care Act requirement for employers' health insurance plans to cover birth control at no cost for women.
After years of the Republicans pushing for the Blunt Amendment to allow employers to deny birth control access, and threatening to shut down the government in 2013 over it -- poof -- Trump's team has done it.
Threatening birth control access for 62 million women defies common sense. If Donald Trump and Republicans truly want to reduce the already-record-low number of abortions in this country, then he should be expanding access to birth control, not gutting it.
But jamming through a 20-week abortion ban is particularly cruel. Only 1% of abortions take place after 20 weeks -- and the reasons these women have abortions can be especially heartbreaking:
- They are women who are told that if they don't end their pregnancies, their kidneys could fail, or their hearts could fail, or they can't get the chemotherapy they need to save their lives.
- They are women who have an ultrasound and find out devastating news: that their fetus has a giant hole in its heart and spine, or a deformed head, or organs outside the body, and the fetus either has no chance of survival or has an abnormality so severe that it would mean a short life filled with pain.
- They are more likely to be very young, or to not understand that they're pregnant until it's too late.
- They are more likely to live in places where getting an abortion means driving three hours or more to a doctor who will perform one.
- And they are more likely to be poor and need to save up money to pay for the procedure.
These vulnerable women aren't the only people that Republicans want to punish. Doctors who are caught performing late-term abortions could face five years in prison under the House Republicans' bill.
We've lived in an America where women died in back alley abortions. We've lived in an America where high school girls tried poisons and coat hangers to end pregnancies. We've lived in an America where young women who faced unwanted pregnancies took their own lives.
We've lived in that America, and we are NOT going back. Not now, not ever.