Cohen Joins Opposition to GOP Proposal to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; January 21, 2015:

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today joined U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) at a rally this afternoon opposing yet another Republican attempt to subvert the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and undermine a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health care choices. NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue and Karen Finney also expressed their opposition to H.R. 36, which would ban abortions before the fetus is legally considered “viable” as determined by the Supreme Court, at today’s rally. Photos of the Congressman at today’s rally are availablehere, and video of the Congressman speaking out against this legislation on the House Floor earlier today is available here.

“Republicans know they can’t get past the Supreme Court’s ruling protecting a woman’s right to choose, so they are trying to go around it by creating an entirely new justification for banning abortion that has never been recognized before,” said Congressman Cohen. “This so-called ‘fetal pain ban’ proposal isn’t about fetal pain; it’s about outlawing abortions and repealing Roe v. Wade. Republicans have rushed this bill through the process without any opportunity to amend it, the legislation doesn’t have a meaningful exception even if the health of the mother is at risk and it would put victims of rape and incest in an impossible position. In timing this bill to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Republicans are transparently using drama messaging to appeal to their base at the expense women’s health and constitutional rights. Women’s rights shouldn’t be theater, they shouldn’t be taken lightly; we have to vote this bill down.”

President Barack Obama has stated that he will veto H.R. 36, which Republican leaders have rushed through the legislative process without an opportunity for amendments, if Congress sends it to his desk. Congressman Cohen decried the Republican effort to bypass regular order and rush the bill through the House at a hearing of the Rules Committee yesterday, video of which is available here. The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks with no meaningful exception to protect a woman’s health. It would would deny care to women in the most desperate of circumstances, force victims of rape and incest to file a police report in order to obtain care, and is a blatant attempt to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.

The bill runs flagrantly afoul of the clear constitutional rule on viability.  While many factors go into determining viability, and it can vary from case to case, it is generally acknowledged as not occurring until around 24 weeks.  The Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down pre-viability abortion prohibitions. The Supreme Court has continued to uphold this holding in subsequent cases, but H.R. 36 would prohibit the procedure in many pre-viability situations.