June 30, 2016
Contact: Tara Sweeney, 917-488-0094, tsweeney@nirhealth.org

National Institute for Reproductive Health Launches Aggressive Advocacy Campaign to Educate Public About Consequences of Republican National Committee Platform on Abortion

Campaign Warns About RNC’s Historic Drive to Criminalize Abortion,
Asking: “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a woman serve?”

NEW YORK — In an attempt to educate the public about the Republican National Committee (RNC) platform’s implications for women who have abortions, the National Institute for Reproductive Health today launched an aggressive, multi-platform advocacy campaign asking a critical question that anti-abortion activists have refused to reckon with: “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a woman serve?”

Republican National Convention attendees and the general public will be met with six billboards across Cleveland, starting today, while print and digital ads will be rolled out in top national and regional news outlets and social media platforms as the convention nears. With Monday’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt sending a message to legislators that political interference in a woman’s decision-making won’t be tolerated, this campaign highlights that the RNC platform has historically included proposals that would make abortion illegal – and likely will again this year.

“The anti-choice movement has tried to hide the cruel reality that banning abortion would effectively turn millions of women and their health care providers into criminals,” said National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller. “As a growing number of anti-abortion restrictions lie about abortion; delay, harass, and punish women; and seek to shut down clinics, it’s time the RNC answer the question of what would happen to women and doctors under its historic drive to make abortion illegal. This campaign underscores what it means to follow the RNC platform through to its logical conclusion.”

For more than three decades, the RNC platform has stated, “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” Were this to be adopted, it would likely make abortion illegal — and both the woman having an abortion and the doctor providing one could be prosecuted.

This is not a hypothetical or hyperbole. In total, since 2004, at least 17 people have been arrested or convicted in connection with alleged self-induced abortion. In the past two years, several women in the U.S. have been charged with murder or sentenced to prison after trying to end their own pregnancies. And this year in Oklahoma, the legislature passed a bill that would have made providing an abortion a homicide punishable with imprisonment.

Since Roe v. Wade, politicians have quietly passed more than 1,000 laws that shame, pressure, punish — even criminalize — women who have decided to have an abortion. More than 330 anti-abortion laws have been passed just since 2010. This campaign about the RNC platform builds on the National Institute’s research finding that members of the public are unaware of both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.

“There’s a widening gap between the anti-choice movement’s goals and the public. National Institute polling has shown that large majorities of voters want abortion to be more accessible and for a woman to be able to experience abortion without shame, pressure, or embarrassment. There is tremendous support across the country for the kinds of laws that would reverse the recent trend in state legislatures to severely restrict abortion,” said Miller. “This campaign is about shining a bright light on the disconnect between voters’ values and the extremism embodied for decades in the RNC platforms and enacted into law by scores of state legislatures.”

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The National Institute for Reproductive Health works across the country to increase access to reproductive health care by changing public policy, galvanizing public support, and normalizing women’s decisions to have abortions and use contraception.