Republicans are forcing women to have abortions – and then telling us it's too late
Stock photo of a worried woman (Shutterstock)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Republicans kicked off their first day in control of the US Congress this week by moving to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, first in the House and very soon in the Senate . The House already passed this back in 2013 – with exactly zero exceptions for women’s health, or rape or incest that hadn’t been reported to police.

But I must admit to being slightly confused: Why is the GOP trying to ban later abortions when they’re doing such a stellar job forcing women to get them?

After all, Republicans are the ones who want to spend millions on abstinence-only “education” – as in those medically inaccurate, ideology driven classes on sexuality telling students that condoms cause cancer and birth control pills cause sterility . I mean, why go through all the trouble of making up such fantastical lies if not to make sure that sexually active teens are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies, right? And it’s working! Teen pregnancy is highest in states with abstinence-only education .

Adults need not worry, though: the GOP is heavily invested in forcing women of all ages to wait weeks upon weeks to get an abortion.

Whether you’re in one of the 14 states with 20-week bans or not, 89% of counties in the United States lack an abortion provider , due in large part to efforts by Republicans to close down clinics across the country using TRAP laws: One-third of women seeking abortions have to travel more than 25 miles to get one , and 31% of women who live in rural areas had to travel over 100 miles to their nearest provider.

Women who do manage to get to a clinic where abortions are performed may be met with mandatory waiting periods of up to 72 hours . For women who don’t have access to cars, who can’t take one day off of work – let alone two or three, during the work week, within 20 weeks, for multiple clinic visits – these hurdles can make getting an early abortion nearly impossible.

The further along you get in a pregnancy – the more restrictions, traveling, waiting periods and hoops to jump – the more expensive the procedure. Thirty-six percent of women who had second-trimester abortions cited needing time to get money together as a reason for their delay in care. Thanks to the Republican-backed Hyde Amendment , abortion coverage is illegal under Medicaid – making it harder for low-income women to get abortions at all, let alone within the first few weeks of find out they’re pregnant.

The US may not have enough abortion clinics, but thanks to conservatives across the country, we sure do have an excess of crisis pregnancy centers – as in those religious organizations that routinely intimidate and mislead women looking to end their pregnancies. Some lie to women about how far along they are , tricking pregnant women into thinking they have more time to make a decision. Others tell pregnant women they’ll probably miscarry so not to worry about abortion, or continually reschedule appointments to delay a woman long enough that she’ll be too far along to terminate legally in her state.

We’re already trapping women into forced pregnancies. We sure as hell don’t need a national law to reinforce the litany of injustices already being thrown at pregnant women.

So thanks, GOP, for creating the very issue you seem to be so concerned about.

As Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights , told me:

If politicians were interested in making the very small number of women who need abortion services after 20 weeks even smaller, they would be focusing on policies that restore women’s access to basic health services, not outlaw them.

Women have later abortions for all sorts of reasons, some of which can’t be avoided , none of which are anyone’s business but her own. But for women who want to end their pregnancies as soon as possible, there should be support – not delay. According to the Guttmacher Institute , 91% of women who had second-trimester abortions – right in that 20-week window – say they would have preferred to have the procedure earlier. Too bad Republicans are about to make that impossible. © Guardian News and Media 2015