The Republican-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, offering social conservatives a symbolic gift even as the bill has zero chance of becoming law.
The vote was 228-196, with six Democrats and all but six Republicans voting for the measure. The Democratic-led Senate is likely to ignore the measure, and the White House has vowed a veto in the unlikely event it reached the president’s desk.
The bill, called the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, unless the life of the mother is at risk, NBC reports. The legislation cites studies that indicate that a fetus feels pain starting at this gestational threshold; supporters of the bill say this medical research dictates that these fetuses should therefore not be aborted.
After sponsor Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stated last week that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” Republicans amended it to exempt pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest -- and are reported to authorities. And they pushed Franks aside as chief advocate in favor of Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
"It shows a distrust of women and a lack of the reality of sexual assaults," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said of the legal conditions placed on the exemption, USA Today reported.
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Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday brushed off the idea that the bill would harm his party’s standing with women, Talking Points Memo reported.
“No,” he told reporters. “Listen, after this Kermit Gosnell trial and some of the horrific acts that were going on, the vast majority of the American people believe in the substance of this bill, and so do I.” Boehner was referring to the conviction of a Pennsylvania abortion doctor for murdering live-born babies.
“The Republican majority is once again trying attacking a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to choose,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. “This Republican war on women has been a top priority for the majority for decades, and it continues today.”