Friday, November 3, 2017


Head of Reproductive Clinic Testifies Against Six-Week Abortion Bill

Priscilla Smith ’91, Clinical Lecturer in Law for Yale Law School’s Reproductive Rights and Justice Project, testified before members of Congress on Nov. 1, 2017, about a new legislative proposal that would ban abortion at six weeks.

Titled the "The Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017," the bill would ban abortions starting at approximately 6 weeks of pregnancy which experts say is before most women know they are pregnant. The bill provides only a very limited exception for circumstances where the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy.  

Smith testified against the bill, detailing how the proposal was “blatantly unconstitutional” and noting that it “flies in the face of 40 years of Supreme Court precedent.”

Smith outlined how the landmark 7-2 decision of Roe v. Wade has been repeatedly backed over the years by Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Smith told the committee that the bill was also problematic because six weeks is before most women even know they are pregnant and is well before the fetus is considered viable.

The bill would also likely make the United States already poor maternal mortality rate even worse, Smith said, as it provides extremely limited exceptions for abortion when the life of the mother is at risk during pregnancy. Smith cited a statistic showing that the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the developed world.

The testimony was before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

Read Smith’s testimony

Watch the hearing