Last Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in support of the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” which would make it a crime to harm a fetus in the process of committing any of 68 federal crimes. The federal law would, as opponents argue, tread dangerously on a woman’s right to choose, as its language is both broad and vague. The hearing came in conjunction with anti-abortion votes in two state legislatures, as Illinois passed heavy restrictions against Medicaid-funded abortions and Idaho signed a parental consent law.
Illinois’ and Idaho’s restrictive measures, like many anti-abortion statutes, disproportionately affect poor women, young women, and women of color. According to the Kaiser Daily Health Report, supporters of both measures stressed the rights of “moral” opponents to abortion to block their tax dollars from funding the procedure and to prevent young women from making this decision in the absence of their parents. Supporters of the bill asserted the measures’ effects on women’s lives: blocking Medicaid funding means adversely affecting poor women, while women of means continue to obtain abortions.
Parental consent laws, rather than encouraging women to seek adult advice in making a decision concerning an unwanted pregnancy, lead to back alley abortions and unwanted births.