House Republicans passed Thursday an abortion bill that would limit funding as anti-abortion activists marched in protest of the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling in Washington, D.C. The anti-abortion legislation passed 242 to 179, on a nearly party-line vote, after GOP leaders dropped a much stronger anti-abortion measure after some women lawmakers complained that it went too far and would alienate voters.
The “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy, with some exceptions for rape victims who report the crime to law enforcement officials. A vote on the legislation had been expected Thursday to coincide with the annual March for Life marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion. But after some lawmakers predicted a backlash from moderate Republican voters, the House instead passed a bill to prohibit federal funding for abortions, according to the Washington Post. The White House has said President Barack Obama would veto any legislation that would limit women's health care access.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the watered-down bill an "extreme" measure. “By passing a mean-spirited bill that takes abortion coverage away from millions of women, the House has shown it’s totally out of touch with women’s lives and health care,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the ACLU, in a statement. “Politics shouldn’t drive decisions about a woman’s health or her insurance coverage."
Abortion rights are increasingly under attack from Republican lawmakers. In 2013, 22 states passed 70 anti-abortion measures, according to a recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank on global sexual and reproductive health. The measures include late-term bans, doctor and clinic regulations, and bans on insurance coverage of abortions.