Posted on August 16, 2013 Issues: Abortion

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released a new report, ‘Shut That Whole Thing Down:’ A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape,which finds that many anti-choice politicians have learned nothing from the public outcry following dismissive and false remarks from then-U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard, congressional candidate John Koster in Washington and others.

On August 19, 2012, Rep. Akin made a statement that would outrage the public and ultimately torpedo his Senate campaign. In explaining his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, he said,

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The report, released one year after Akin’s remarks sparked an uproar, looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:

  • 86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
     
  • 71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
     
  • 72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

These restrictions include: forcing a woman who has been raped to carry her pregnancy to term; denying her insurance coverage for an abortion; forcing her to undergo a physically invasive ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat; allowing hospitals to refuse to provide her an abortion; or forcing her to receive inaccurate and biased information designed to dissuade her from having an abortion.

“These restrictions are an insult to women and their health needs,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “The Center’s report finds that many anti-choice politicians continue to spread false assertions about rape in order to justify the draconian restrictions that they advance.

“Last fall, voters shut down the political aspirations of Todd Akin and other candidates who made similarly outrageous remarks about rape. A year later, it is clear that many officeholders around the country are determined to enact such views into law.”

“‘Shut That Whole Thing Down:’ A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape” is available at: http://www.nwlc.org/shutdown

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