GOP pushes late-term abortion ban toward House passage
Washington — Many late-term abortions would be outlawed under legislation Republicans pushed toward House passage Tuesday, a bill that won’t reach an eager President Donald Trump because it faces certain defeat in the Senate.
The measure is a top priority for anti-abortion groups. House debate came a week after the collapse of a GOP effort to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law that would have also blocked federal money for Planned Parenthood.
White House officials sent lawmakers a letter saying the measure “would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our nation aspires.” That praise was in contrast to the certain veto similar bills faced under Obama.
Obama never had to act. The Democratic-controlled Senate didn’t even consider the bill after the House approved it in 2013, and a House-passed measure in 2015 was rejected by a GOP-run Senate.
That same fate awaits it this year. Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority but overwhelming Democratic opposition means the measure would never reach the 60 votes it would need to pass.
Asked this week if the Senate would consider the measure after House passage, No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said, “That’s not a near-term priority.” Senate GOP leaders are now focusing on tax cuts.
The White House letter also cited “recent advancements” showing “the physical structures necessary to experience pain” are developed 20 weeks after fertilization, a point Republicans repeated during House debate.
Democrats rejected that. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said fetuses cannot experience pain before at least 24 weeks of development.
The measure would make it a crime for anyone to perform most abortions on fetuses believed to be 20 weeks into development. Violators could face five years in prison.
Exceptions would be made to save the mother’s life and for incest and rapes reported to government authorities.
Abortions after 20 weeks are rare. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of over 664,000 reported abortions in 2013, just 1.3 percent occurred at least 21 weeks into development.
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