In Washington, D.C. politics today, a law that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks is making its way through Congress. This bill also has exceptions for cases of rape and incest.
On Tuesday, October 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 237-189 for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
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.
At the federal level, a 20-week abortion ban is mostly theoretical for now. The Senate, however, requires a 60-vote threshold to pass most controversial legislation without a potential derailment in the form of a filibuster.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. - the bill's sponsor and a Southern Baptist - said in a Facebook post after the vote, "The primary and overarching objective of American government is to protect the innocent among us". But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump's endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement. According to AP, the bill faces "certain" defeat once it reaches the Senate. The United States is now out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only seven out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
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Abortion-rights advocates decried the legislation, criticizing the science it is based on and the timing of the vote after the Las Vegas mass shooting and the ongoing post-hurricane needs in Puerto Rico.
Only a tiny fraction of abortions happen at 20 weeks gestation or later - less than 2 percent, according to a 2009 Centers for Disease Control study - but the women who get them often need them desperately.
The sole Democrats to support the bill were Reps.
Not voting were Republicans Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Billy Long of Missouri, and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, and Democrats Jim Himes of CT and Nevada's Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen, and Dina Titus. Nebraska and South Dakota are among 20 states to have similar bans in state law. Just past year, Taylor Mahaffey was forced by the state of Texas to spend four agonizing days delivering her stillborn baby rather than simply let a doctor pop her amniotic sac, which would have technically been an abortion.
"By restricting women's access to abortion legal and safe, the republicans will deprive millions of women their fundamental right to make decisions that are appropriate to them, and their families", protested the director-general of the democratic party, Jess O'connell. The House approved the funding ban in the previous congressional session, but the Senate failed to act on it.
Some of his top advisers and vice president Mike Pence have publicly opposed abortion.