Hearings on S. 1696: The Planned Parenthood Protection Act

Undermining 40 years of abortion regulation in one easy bill.

Hearings on S. 1696--the Planned PArenthood Protection Act

Senate Democrats

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on S.1696, the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013,” introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) last November. The bill, more aptly called the “Planned Parenthood and Kermit Gosnell-Wannabes Protection Act of 2013,” has a whopping 35 co-sponsors (one socialist and 34 Dems).

The hearing raised a lot of questions, but foremost is this one: How do people like this get elected to Congress, to represent Americans?

By supporting S.1696, they subscribe to the belief that the Holy Grail of abortion access trumps the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, the foundational Constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, forty years of Supreme Court abortion precedent and the will of the majority of the American people … not to mention women’s health and babies’ lives.

Thomas Messner has provided an exhaustive legal and policy analysis of Sen. Blumenthal’s bill, so we needn’t go too deeply into the weeds. But with 36 supporters in the Senate and 135 in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3471), Americans need to know something about this latest attempt to pass a version of the Freedom of Choice Act. And we need to let our Members of Congress know how we feel about the co-sponsors’ goal of Abortion Über Alles and their naked attempt to usurp powers delegated to the Court and to the states.

The Pro-Life Genesis of S.1696

As Americans increasingly have become pro-life (due to the ubiquity of prenatal ultrasounds, greater knowledge of the suffering many women experience after abortion and the exposure of inhumane practices in abortion clinics, inter alia), they’ve elected state legislators and governors who represent their beliefs. A Guttmacher Institute Policy Review states: “More state abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade.” The review cites 189 “restrictions” enacted in the decade 2001 – 2010, compared to 205 in the 3-year period 2011-2013. The authors also note than more than half of the states in the U.S. “were classified as hostile to abortion rights,” for having enacted four or more regulations affecting abortion.

What is the nature of these state “restrictions” and how do people feel about them?

The Guttmacher Institute’s “State Policies in Brief” (July 1, 2014) lists the common state abortion regulations. A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll released in January 2014 offers the latest public opinions on abortion regulation. Their findings follow.

Guttmacher:  39 states require abortions to be performed by a licensed physician
Americans:  76% oppose letting abortions be performed by non-doctors

Guttmacher:  42 states prohibit abortions at later gestational ages (most often after fetal viability) except when the mother’s life or “health” is at risk (“Health” was broadly defined in Roe’s companion case as “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.”).

Americans: 74% favor a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, except to save the mother’s life. And 84% of Americans favor stronger limits on abortion, permitting it only (a) in the first three months of pregnancy (28%), (b) only when the pregnancy results from rape or incest or to save the mother’s life (33%), (c) only when needed to save the mother’s life (12%), or (d) under no circumstances (11%).

Guttmacher:  26 states require waiting periods, usually of 24 hours
Americans:  79% support a 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion

Guttmacher:  38 states require some type of parental involvement (notification or consent, with judicial bypass)