WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said a Republican-led proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks would endanger women’s health and have serious consequences for doctors.
“If this law were passed and passed, this law would create a nationwide public health crisis that would endanger the health and lives of women in all 50 states,” reads a preliminary analysis of the bill by Gender Policy Chair Jennifer Klein White House Council obtained from The Associated Press. “It would transform medical practice and open the door for doctors to be thrown in jail for using their best medical judgment in fulfilling their duty of care to patients.”
President Joe Biden himself said at a fundraiser that some GOP efforts to ban abortion are more extreme than his own Catholic faith.
“I happen to be a practicing Catholic. My church doesn’t even make that argument,” he said, referring to abortion bans that “allow no exceptions. rape, incest. No exceptions.”
Catholic teaching holds that abortion is forbidden, although life-saving surgery is permitted for the mother, even if it means the baby will die from it. The measure, introduced last week by Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., proposes a statewide ban that would allow for rare exceptions.
Federal legislation has little chance of becoming law in the democratically controlled Congress. GOP leaders didn’t immediately embrace it, and Democrats cite the proposal as an alarming signal of where Republicans would be headed if they won control of Congress in November.
Many in the United States had believed that the constitutional abortion right established by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago could never be overturned. But that protection was scrapped by the court’s conservative majority this year, and proponents are leaving nothing to chance.
A majority of respondents in a July poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said Congress should pass legislation guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
Vice President Kamala Harris urged the Democratic Attorneys General at a meeting in Milwaukee on Thursday to continue fighting for abortion rights in the states. She singled out Wisconsin’s Josh Kaul, who is up for re-election in November for filing a lawsuit challenging the 1849 state statute that bans abortion except for rape or incest.
“Josh, our administration is behind you,” she said to applause.
Wisconsin clinics stopped performing abortions after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade had vacated while the legal battle over whether the state statute was in effect was unfolding. Republican lawmakers have rejected two attempts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, also on the ballot, to repeal the law.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit organization representing more than 60,000 physicians nationwide, sent a letter to the White House on Thursday outlining its concerns about the proposed law.
The group criticized the “arbitrary age limit for pregnancy” because it “is not based on scientific and medical evidence and would dramatically impair patients’ ability to receive timely medical care, including prenatal care, miscarriage management and abortion treatment.”
The organization argued that doctors would become less qualified as their training would be changed to comply with the law once the bans were in place. The letter said doctors fear that post-abortion bans already in place in several states will “have deadly consequences and further exacerbate a deepening maternal mortality crisis, in which 80% of deaths are preventable.”
The White House said the Republican proposal could have a chilling effect given the prospect of doctors becoming unwilling to attend to patients. Doctors could also be prosecuted for performing an abortion to protect the mother’s health, providing miscarriage treatment, aborting a pregnant woman whose baby has no chance of surviving, or treating a rape victim who has not fully complied with reporting requirements.