Sen. Bob Casey,
It has come to our attention that you intend to join in on right-wing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s legislation (S. 2311) that would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Those performing or receiving an abortion after that point would face the possible penalty of up to five years in prison, fines, or both.
In supporting this legislation, you are aggressively punishing the poor, the working class, people of color, and all marginalized communities in the state of Pennsylvania. Voting yea on S. 2311 will confirm your continuing failure to represent women’s health rights, as your constituents saw in 2015.
There is no choice where there is no access.
S. 2311 would effectively criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition to enforcing waiting periods (which are almost never required for other medical procedures), this bill would unnecessarily burden patients and dramatically restrict their access to healthcare.
This legislation would allow women to seek abortion past 20 weeks in only two cases: rape, or incest against a minor. In the case of rape, a woman must receive medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to her abortion, or she must have reported the rape to law enforcement. In the case of incest, the incident must have been reported to social services or law enforcement.
There are many reasons why an individual does not report their rape to a justice system poorly equipped to handle the crime, such as instances where intimate partner violence is involved. These provisions would create unnecessary barriers and delays for those seeking healthcare after a rape.
These provisions would also further restrict access to abortion for the poor and the vulnerable. Low income people often have to delay their abortion procedures in order to collect funds for the out-of-pocket cost, or because they have difficulty scheduling the procedure due to lack of sick leave or paid time off. This legislation would systematically and intentionally undermine the reproductive rights of working and low-income people.
This is class war.
In the past you have tried, and failed, to overturn Roe v. Wade and to change public opinion on abortion. Do you think your constituents will not notice as you try to achieve the same goal through regulation instead of litigation? We know that abortion regulations disproportionately and systematically rob women of color and those that cannot afford care of the right to choose and actually kill women. We cannot and should not have to jump through hoops to obtain the care we need.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the national average cost for an abortion in the first trimester is around $500, and as much as $2,000 for the second trimester. Enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment officially prohibits federal taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions . Fifty-three percent of abortion patients pay out of pocket for their procedure. It can take a working person months to save up this much money. Because abortion procedures become more complicated and expensive as a pregnancy progresses, each week of delay further increases these costs.
According to research from the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health Project, financial and legal restrictions often push people to the 20 week range, and the most common case for abortions at this stage of pregnancy is that the person simply didn’t know they were pregnant until they were past 13 weeks. Your hypocrisy on this issue is a signal to women, people who can carry pregnancies, the poor, and the working class in your constituency that we are disposable to you.
Criminalizing abortions will not prevent abortions. It will make them more dangerous.
Faced with a lack of access to affordable abortion options, many women have attempted to induce their own abortions through less safe means. Some people seek out more affordable avenues with greater health risks, such as the case with the death of Rosie Jimenez in 1978. The state of Texas, with some of the most restrictive abortion regulations akin to those which you are about to sign on to, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.
Efforts to limit access to abortions will not stop abortions from happening—they will simply punish those who cannot afford abortion care by forcing them to flee the state or gamble with procedures that put their lives at risk. In the United States, abortion should be a safe and legal medical procedure that can be accessed without delay from qualified medical professionals.
We demand an expansion of Medicare for all, covering the full spectrum of comprehensive reproductive care from family planning, STI testing, safer sex tools, and completely unrestricted abortion, on demand without barriers. We know that these bills do not prevent abortion—they callously punish the poor, restrict bodily autonomy, and kill pregnant people.
The Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America