House Passes Bill Criminalizing Abortions After 20 Weeks

[Pro-life protesters at March For Life in January 2017 | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Images]
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The House just passed a bill criminalizing abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, the House boasts a Republican majority, and the 20-week abortion ban passed with a 237-189 vote. While pro-choice advocates have staunchly opposed the bill, the Trump administration has been nothing but supportive of the endeavor.

On Monday, the White House said it “strongly supports” the “stronger protections” the bill fosters. The statement also noted the measure would help to “secure critical pro-life protections.”

“Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization,” the White House said.

Before the House voted, bill-sponsor Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) also tweeted, “It’s science: unborn babies feel pain by at least 20 weeks. Late, dismemberment abortions are too extreme for America. #TheyFeelPain.”

In addition to support from the White House, Franks’ bill has also garnered support from fellow GOP members and the Susan B. Anthony pro-life organization.

If the bill manages to pass through the Senate and is enacted into law, abortion providers would face steep fines and up to five years in jail for conducting or attempting an abortion after 20 weeks. Women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks would not be penalized under the measure. Exceptions to the 20-week ban would be made for instances of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

To make it through the Senate, the criminalizing-post-20-week-abortions bill would need the support of at least eight Democrats—an unlikely event, to say the least. In 2015, the Senate put the kibosh on a similar measure, and there’s a good chance the new abortion ban won’t get very far either. It almost seems as if Congress is intentionally ineffectual, doesn’t it?

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