Republican members of the House are trying to push nationwide abortion legislation that would ban women's access to the procedure after 20 weeks without any exceptions for victims of rape, incest or the health of the mother. The bill was (obviously) struck down by the Circuit Court of Appeals in Arizona for being unconstitutional on Tuesday, but Representative Trent Franks isn't giving up his dream to legislate your lady parts. He organized a House Judiciary Subcomittee on Thursday morning to discuss the bill, but I guess everyone who has a uterus was busy that day? The picture above is what the Huffington Post's Laura Bassett encountered when she sat down to hear a panel set-up to debate the bill.
After seeing this picture, many of us are having some serious flashbacks from last winter, when the panel on female contraception was also a complete sausage fest. The Republican party does know that men can't get pregnant, right? Well we know they do, because if men could get pregnant, we probably wouldn't even be debating this issue in the first place. We also would certainly never have an all-female panel discussing it.
This abortion restriction bro-only-panel also seems like a broader distraction from the fact that this bill is essentially absurd.
Let's begin with the fact that there isn't even any research showing that time restrictions actually reduce the total amount of abortions. Why? Mostly because a small amount of women actually need to get abortions beyond 20 weeks. Actually, the vast majority (88% to be exact) of abortions in the United States take place in the first 12-13 weeks. Approximately 99% of abortions take place before 20 weeks. So why do we urgently need eight dudes debating this bill again?
It should also be noted that a significant amount of women who seek abortions beyond the 20-week mark actually happen to be minors (one third to be exact). We can all agree that a ban forcing young girls to bring unwanted pregnancies to term isn't how we are going to limit the amount of abortions. If Trent Franks is serious about reducing the amount of abortions in America, he's going to have to reduce women's needs for them in the first place. Young girls have unwanted pregnancies because of a lack of access to contraceptives and informative sex education. Studies show that better or free access to contraception can slash the abortion rate in half. Why isn't Representative Franks spending tax payer money and congressional resources on discussing how to make better sex education programs to prevent teen pregnancies and help young girls discern the first signs of pregnancy, instead of pushing legislation that would force children to take their pregnancies to term?
It's important to remember that pro-choicers and pro-lifers both want to reduce the amount of abortions. We should be working together towards that goal. It's time to stop spending time defending ideologically-driven legislation that does little to actually limit the amount of unwanted pregnancies, and instead focus on what actually reduces the amount of abortions: access to contraception and better sex education. If politicians want to decrease the amount of abortions, they need to decrease the need for them. Maybe if they had bothered to put a woman on their panel, they would know that.
For more on the importance of buns at abortion-legislation-themed sausage parties, follow me on Twitter: @feministabulous