As state legislators work harder and harder to criminalize all abortion, the reality of women going to jail for pregnancy outcomes becomes real.
In fact, in the United States, women can already be sent to jail for self-managing their own abortion. Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison for self-managing her own abortion in 2015 in Indiana. While her sentence was eventually reduced, she is not alone.
There are leaders in the ‘pro-life’ movement who claim they do not want women to be punished for abortion.
Rep. Roger Marshall (R-TX) told Reproaction he does not agree with punishing women who have abortions, including those who self-manage their own abortion. Yet he signed on to a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration demanding for an end to what he called a “rouge mail-order abortion operation,” referring to the group Aid Access. However, many women who have used Aid Access to access abortion services in the U.S. would not have had access to abortion otherwise, and further expressed their gratitude for the organization. Marshall cannot be trusted to keep in mind the interests of those who self-manage abortion with pills if he tries to impede their access to safe, effective abortion pills.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, asserted punishment for abortion is “outside what we would recommend,” and Americans United for Life has told to news outlets they are against criminalization for women who have abortions. However, the organization is reportedly now seeking congressional intervention to target Aid Access, which distributes abortion pills used to self-manage abortions, and has not stated if that intervention would explicitly protect women who use the service from being prosecuted. Later, Catherine Glenn Foster went on to flippantly tweet about a very serious case regarding Marshae Jones, a woman in Alabama who was charged and almost prosecuted for losing her pregnancy after someone else shot her in the stomach. The president of Americans United for Life tweeted about the unfortunate case alongside lyrics from a Taylor Swift song.
A representative from Americans United for Life also told PBS when discussing abortion bans that “the prospect of criminal prosecution [for women] is virtually nil,” although in reality state legislators in Ohio and Texas have proposed abortion bans that would throw women in jail.
It is disturbing that some pro-life leaders and legislators from around the country are calling for women to be thrown behind bars for having abortions. Sign our petition below demanding more than just words, but tangible action to prevent criminalization of people who have abortions.