How Nebraska’s 20-Week Abortion Ban Became One Family’s Nightmare and Why We Need to Ban The Bans

Posted on April 10, 2012

RH Reality Check, April 10, 2012 by Jacqueline M.

This article was written by Jacqueline M. and cross-posted from Women Are Watching, a project of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

In Arizona, a sweeping anti-women’s health bill is “this close” to becoming law. After passing both the Arizona state House and Senate, the bill needs one more vote of approval in the House, before it heads to the desk of Governor Jan Brewer. [Update: This bill passed the Arizona House today and is now headed for Brewer’s desk.]

Among the provisions in the bill is the most extreme form of a “20-week ban” we have seen. The 20-week ban (also expected to become law in Georgia) is just another example of politicians thinking they know better than women and their doctors. It gives the state power to deny women the care they need, in the most vulnerable of situations.

Danielle Deaver from Nebraska knows the true impact this type of restrictive legislation can have on women and their families, because her state already has a 20-week ban. When Danielle experienced complications in her pregnancy at 22 weeks, her family’s personal loss became a “nightmare.”

A decision that should have been made by Danielle, her family, and her doctors was instead decided for her by Nebraskan politicians. In a letter to the governor of Arizona, Danielle detailed her experience with a similar ban and explained how it can cause tremendous pain and suffering to women and their families:

On Saturday, November 27, my water broke and there was not enough amniotic fluid for my daughter to survive. This was heartbreaking. If there was anything we could have done to save her, we would have.

What happened next should have remained a very private decision between me and my family and my doctors. As the result of a law similar to a bill considered by this state’s Legislature, a decision that should have remained mine and my husband’s at a very difficult time was decided for us — and it was decided by politicians we’d never met….

Though an infection was growing inside me, under the law I wasn’t sick enough to warrant the induction my husband and I wanted….

This is not about politics, it’s about leaving the practice of medicine up to doctors and most importantly, it’s about trusting women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families…. Please right the wrong that Nebraska did to me and stop House Bill 2036. I want my daughter’s life — and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death – to stand for something.

When Danielle went to the doctor, she was not trying to make a political statement; she was just trying to get the care she needed without having politicians pass judgment on the decision that she was making with her family. Perhaps she said it best, “The law, as you know, is black and white. Unfortunately, life just isn’t.”  You can watch Danielle’s story in the accompanying video.

Unfortunately, stories like Danielle’s are not unique. From Texas, where a local magazine captured the pattern we’re seeing across the country of extreme government overreach into women’s lives, to Virginia, which prompted national outcry over a mandatory ultrasound bill, women in states across the country are being shamed and demeaned for receiving the care they need because legislators (most of them men) think they know better. Or they’re outright banning it, as happened with Danielle.

These legislators take what are already incredibly difficult decisions — ones that should be made between women, their families, and their doctors — and make them that much more excruciating.

The 20-week ban was a trending bill in many states in 2010 and 2011, with six states passing these bans already (Nebraska was the first). And while Arizona’s proposed 20 week ban has already been compared to the Nebraska law, the Arizona bill would in fact be the most extreme abortion ban currently in force anywhere in the country if enacted.

It’s time for more women to stand up and speak out against this governmental intrusion that has nothing to do with practicing medicine or improving women’s health — but everything to do with politics.  Take action today!

Posted in: Arizona, Nebraska, Texas