On Tuesday, November 8th we hope that you will vote. When you do, please keep these facts in mind:
1. Women already face punishment for having and attempting to have abortions
On August 31, 2016, Purvi Patel finally walked out of the Indiana Women's Prison, after fighting a conviction and 20-year sentence for attempting to have an abortion. With help from NAPW, her conviction for feticide was overturned. By the time she won her appeal, however, she had already spent over a year in prison.
Purvi Patel is not alone. Women in Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas also face criminal charges and penalties for attempting to end their pregnancies (two women with medication and one with a coat hanger.) NAPW is working to ensure that no woman faces arrest or punishment because she ended or sought to end a pregnancy.
2. Women are being punished for being pregnant
NAPW has documented hundreds of cases in which being pregnant has provided the basis for an arrest. In other words, non-criminal acts such as falling down a flight of stairs, drinking alcohol, being so despondent as to attempt suicide, using drugs (as opposed to possessing drugs), failing to get bed rest, and postponing or declining surgery have become criminal acts because someone is pregnant. Indeed, in Wisconsin, as the case of Alicia Beltran illustrates, simply being pregnant and seeking medical help can result in an arrest or equivalent detention.
Often, district attorneys who are elected are the ones bringing prosecutions against pregnant women. And while NAPW has helped successfully challenge many of these cases, we need to make sure that all of our elected officials understand and oppose laws and policies that make such prosecutions possible.
3. Pregnant women are already being denied basic rights including the right to consent to or refuse surgical and other medical interventions
Medical and bioethics experts and organizations agree that no person should be denied the right to liberty, autonomy, bodily integrity, and medical decision-making. And yet, in May of 2015 a New York City trial court held in the Dray case that there are circumstances when doctors may, without court order or even consultation with an ethics committee, force a pregnant woman to undergo major surgery over her clear objection. NAPW will soon be filing an amicus brief in this case on behalf of more than 40 experts and organizations. But we need to ensure that everyone, from private physicians to elected officials, respect women's decision-making and understand that consent is key.
So we ask that you not only support NAPW but that when you go to vote on November 8th (and every election day) you ask yourself:
- Does this candidate understand that everyone, including pregnant women, is entitled to informed consent and to make their own decisions?
- Does this candidate support laws and policies that will ensure that people needn't fear arrest or punishment for being pregnant?
- And finally, does this candidate respect women, including those who are pregnant?
Please support NAPW and make sure every elected official values and respects pregnant women.
VOTE Tuesday, November 8