WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for instances in which the life of the mother is at risk and in cases of rape or incest.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act previously passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Senate Democrats under the pro-abortion agenda of the Obama administration, which even tried to force religious people to pay for the procedures.
Now the measure has full support from the White House.
Abortion after 20 weeks, or the second trimester of pregnancy, would be a crime under the new legislation, except in some limited circumstances.
The Republicans’ proposal wouldn’t penalize women for seeking abortions after 20 weeks, but the providers executing an abortion on someone more than 20 weeks pregnant would face five years in a federal prison, a fine or both.
President Trump offered support for the bill during his election campaign. n In a letter he sent to anti-abortion leaders in September 2016, he promised to sign the law, “which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.”
The president confirmed his campaign promise to ban partial-birth abortions in a statement of administration policy issued Monday.
“The administration strongly supports H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections,” the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote.
— Susan B Anthony List (@SBAList) October 2, 2017
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced the bill last Tuesday, contending H.R. 36 “will respect the sanctity of life and stop needless suffering.”
“The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect the voiceless, the vulnerable, and the marginalized,” McCarthy said in a statement. “It will protect those children who science has proven can feel pain, and give them a chance to grow and live full and happy lives. We have an obligation to speak and defend for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Franks led the effort to pass bill after revelations surfaced during the 2013 murder trial of Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) September 26, 2017
Gosnell was exposed aborting late-second and third trimester babies alive and murdering them by snipping their spinal cords with scissors.
Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life organizations, issued a statement warning GOP lawmakers that not voting in favor of the bill is “political suicide.”
“This new law may not end abortion, but it will end some abortions and will save thousands of lives,” Newman said. “There is no reason for the vote on the 20 Week Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to be merely a ‘show vote’ that ends up dying in the Senate’s quicksand. The vast majority of the American people support this life-saving legislation, and Democrats should come on board in support, especially if they are up for re-election in 2018. Late-term abortions are so unpopular that vote against this bill could induce political suicide next year.”
The bill will need to pass the Senate with a 60-vote majority, meaning Republicans must sway at least eight Democrats.
When asked Monday if the chamber would take up the legislation, the majority whip, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it was “not a near-term priority.”
Opponents of the legislation contend the 20-week abortion ban would be unconstitutional.
Abortion giant Planned Parenthood, whose executives were exposed haggling over pricing for aborted babies’ body parts in 2015, charged the legislation is “dangerous” and “out-of-touch,” and “nothing more than yet another attempt to restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund said on its website “20-week bans are unconstitutional” and “a clear attempt to erode Roe v. Wade.”
“In fact, 20-week ban proponents are outspoken about their goal to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”
Left-leaning websites such as Vox claim the bill infringes on women’s right to control their bodies.
While Utah passed a law requiring doctors to give anesthesia to a fetus prior to performing an abortion at 20 weeks of gestation or later, Vox writer Anna North argued the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act “is not based on accepted science” because fetuses are incapable of feeling pain.
“In fact, the best available science shows that fetuses probably cannot feel pain until well after 20 weeks,” she claimed. “Advocates of abortion rights say 20-week bans at the state level have harmed women, forcing them to travel to another state, often at great expense, to get the care they seek. And opponents of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act fear that, though it is unlikely to pass the Senate, it will ultimately spread dangerous misinformation.”
Elizabeth Nolan Brown, writing for the libertarian website Reason, writes that the bill banning late-term abortions inhibits women’s control of their bodies.
“The bill not only restricts women’s control over their own bodies and reproductive futures but also takes a pass at their agency, declaring us too morally or intellectually inferior to know what we are doing and be held responsible for our decisions,” Brown wrote.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue declared on Twitter Monday, “The House GOP’s bill to ban abortion after 20 wks is an attack on women’s freedom & our ability to chart our own futures.”
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) October 2, 2017
But the majority of Americans agree with criminalizing abortions after the second trimester.
Sixty percent support federal legislation limiting abortion after 20 weeks, while only 33 percent oppose it, according to a Quinnipiac Poll.