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Ilhan Omar condemns ‘religious fundamentalists’ over anti-abortion laws in speech to Congress

Minnesota lawmaker says heartbeat bills ‘criminalise women for simply existing’

Zamira Rahim
Thursday 23 May 2019 10:55 BST
Ilhan Omar accuses religious fundamentalists of ignoring women over anti-abortion laws

Ilhan Omar has accused “religious fundamentalists” in the US of “trying to manipulate state impose their beliefs on an entire society” after anti-abortion bills were passed across the country.

Recently passed laws in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio ban abortion after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo.

This can be as early as six weeks – at which point most women do not yet know they are pregnant.

Women’s rights groups have reacted to the wave of state legislation with dismay, but the US religious and political right has largely supported the move.

“Religious fundamentalists are currently trying to manipulate state laws in order to impose their beliefs on an entire society,” Ms Omar said, speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

“All with complete disregard for voices and the rights of American women.”

Georgia’s bill imposes jail sentences for women found guilty of aborting or attempting to abort their pregnancies, with the potential for life imprisonment and the death penalty.

The Minnesota lawmaker said the bills were “only the latest in a long history of efforts to criminalise women for simply existing. To punish us when we don’t conform to their attempts to control us.

“Because it’s happening here, with the support of the ultra-conservative religious right we call it religious freedom,” she added, going on to accuse anti-abortion activists of hypocrisy.

“Let’s just be honest – for the religious right, this isn’t simply about their care or concern for life.

“If they cared about or were concerned about children, they would be concerned about the children that are being detained and those that are dying in camps across our borders.

“Or the children who are languishing in hunger and facing homelessness.”

At least five migrant children have died in US detention since December.

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Ms Omar’s speech comes after Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion bill in the US last week.

Under the law, doctors would face 10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for carrying out the procedure.

Politicians in 16 further states are proposing further legislation to restrict abortion.

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