Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick made it clear to voters that he opposes a women’s right to choose when he joined every other anti-abortion Republican in Congress Friday to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The legislation, which passed thanks to the Democratic House majority, will enshrine the reproductive freedoms previously protected under Roe v. Wade before far-right activist Supreme Court Justices cavalierly overturned over half a century of legal precedent last month. It now needs to clear the Senate, no small task.
“At a time when abortion rights are in crisis, it’s a disgrace that not a single House Republican voted to safeguard our right to abortion—and when Americans head to the polls to vote this November, they will remember which politicians failed them,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju.
Two days before Fitzpatrick’s anti-abortion vote, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing about the impact that denying and criminalizing reproductive health care and abortion access will have on girls and women.
“It is essentially a death sentence,” Michele Bratcher Goodwin, the chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, told the Committee. “We’ve seen that a woman is 14 percent more likely to die carrying a pregnancy to term than having an abortion. That statistic magnifies that the deadliest states like Mississippi, Louisiana are the deadliest places in all of the industrial world to be pregnant.”
Pennsylvania could very well join the ranks of deadliest states for girls and women if Fitzpatrick’s GOP colleagues in Harrisburg get their way. Fellow anti-abortion Republicans actually voted to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to deny abortion rights. Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano wants a total abortion ban in the state – it doesn’t matter if the pregnancy comes from rape or incest, or will kill the mother.
Girls, women, doctors, and other health care providers also potentially face prosecution for abortions, having a miscarriage, or even performing life-saving medical procedures.
National Women’s Law Center President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves also testified at Wednesday’s hearing and spoke about the criminalization of pregnancy complications.
“We’re already hearing reports on the ground about providers being uncertain about the care they can provide when someone has an ectopic pregnancy,” said Goss Graves. “What’s likely to happen is an increase in miscarriages being investigated.”
She also said people should expect prosecutions as a result of abortion bans, and that women have already been criminally investigated for pregnancy outcomes.
“The key thing for people to understand is that the medical procedure for abortion applies to multiple types of situations. People are suggesting that abortion is not reproductive health care. It is,” said Goss Graves. “It’s on the range of reproductive health care people receive in this country. The only question is will it continue to be safe and effective or will we be investigated and criminalized for it.”
Abortion and women’s rights are a growing priority for Americans as we approach November’s elections, according to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. In fact, a survey last month showed that Fitzpatrick’s extreme anti-abortion positions make him vulnerable to Democratic Party challenger Ashley Ehasz.
“When voters learn about his anti-abortion position, there is a dramatic shift toward Ehasz,” noted Global Strategy Group. “Fitzpatrick’s support among the Democrats who bolster his initial lead evaporates and women move solidly into Ehasz’s column.”
Read More Bucks County Beacon Abortion Coverage