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ACLU Testifies Before Congress on State Abortion Bans

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project Director Jennifer Dalven testified today before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, on the recent nationwide attacks on abortion care and reproductive rights.

“The Supreme Court doesn’t have to overturn Roe v. Wade in order for states to push abortion entirely out of reach,” Dalven said. “These bans are a culmination of a decades-long strategy to pile restriction on top of restriction in order to make it nearly impossible for people to get an abortion.”

Dr. Yashica Robinson, an OB/GYN, abortion provider, owner of Alabama Women’s Center, and Physicians for Reproductive Health board member also testified today. Dr. Robinson is a plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit against the abortion ban in Alabama. Robinson said, “By attempting to criminalize practitioners who provide abortion care, we will have the unintended consequence of endangering women and harming communities that are already suffering from lack of health care providers.”

Seven states, emboldened by the Trump administration’s appointment of two justices to the Supreme Court, have passed legislation banning abortion this year. In addition to its lawsuit in Alabama, the ACLU has challenged bans in Kentucky and Ohio, and has announced intentions to file suit challenging the Georgia law. No abortion ban is currently in effect and abortion remains legal in all 50 states.

Actress Busy Philipps also provided testimony at today’s hearing. Her remarks come after she went public with her own abortion story earlier this year, and partnered with the ACLU in a national television advertising campaign on the recent attacks on abortion rights. Philipps said, “No bill that criminalizes abortion will stop anyone from making this incredibly personal decision. These bans will not stop abortion from happening. But they will drive women and girls into the shadows. Which is what this has always been about. Shaming and controlling women’s bodies.”

This surge of bans follows years of politicians passing hundreds of restrictions designed to shut down clinics and push abortion care out of reach.

Dalven’s testimony highlights that the strategy to erode abortion access began after Roe v. Wade with the initial passage of the Hyde Amendment, which bans coverage for abortion for people insured through Medicaid.  After that, state legislatures followed suit. Since the 2010 elections, states have quietly passed 479 medically unnecessary and politically motivated abortion restrictions.

“These restrictions have so severely eroded access to care that already for many people the right to abortion is more theoretical than real,” Dalven said. “This is particularly true for people who face multiple barriers to accessing quality health care, including people with low incomes, who are more likely to be people of color, as well as young people and LGBTQ people.”

The ACLU is currently challenging more than 30 restrictions in 14 states, including Kentucky, one of six states with only one remaining abortion clinic.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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