House passes late-term abortion ban
The House voted Tuesday to impose a nationwide ban on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy over Democratic objections that the bill represents a dramatic attempt by Republicans to restrict abortion rights.
As expected, the vote fell out mostly along party lines in a 228-196 vote — just six Democrats voted for it, and six Republicans opposed it.
Democrats voting for the bill were Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.). Republicans voting against it were Reps. Paul Broun (Ga.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Jon Runyan (N.J.) and Rob Woodall (Ga.).
With limited exceptions, the legislation would ban the abortion of a fetus younger than 20 weeks old, or at 22 weeks of pregnancy under a different measuring system. The ban would be backed by possible fines against doctors, as well as prison sentence of as many as five years.
In Partisan Vote, House Approves Ban on Abortions After 22 Weeks
“I’m not waging a war on anyone,” said Kristi Noem, Republican of South Dakota, offering a rejoinder to the Democratic assertion that Republicans have waged a war on women, a line of attack that harmed conservative candidates in 2012. “Regardless of your personal beliefs, I would hope that stopping atrocities against little babies is something we can all agree to put an end to.”
The bill has no chance in the Democrat-controlled Senate and was put forward by the House Republican leadership in response to demands from anti-abortion lawmakers.
The tableau in the House chamber on Tuesday was intentionally far different from the scene last week at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee at which all 19 of the Republicans arguing for and then voting to approve the bill were men. Republican leaders made sure that their female members were front and center for the debate this time.
House OKs 20-week abortion ban bill
“I think if you hearken back to partial-birth abortion … everybody said you know, it’s not constitutional, it can’t pass, it can’t go anywhere, and it took time to do that and it even had to succeed a presidential veto. But it eventually did,” Franks said.
In pushing the legislation forward, Republicans are issuing a rallying cry for their base still fighting Roe v. Wade 40 years later. Similar fetal pain bills have passed in nearly a dozen states, although some have been challenged in court.
Anti-abortion Republicans are hoping to capitalize on public outrage about Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, which captured national headlines. Franks’s original bill was crafted to outlaw late term abortions in Washington, D.C., and it failed in the House last year under a procedure that needed a two-thirds vote for passage. But the Gosnell verdict sparked outrage and reinvigorated activists, and a few days after the conviction Franks broadened his legislation to apply nationwide.